Instructional Objective: The students will
be able to explain how religion and/or spirituality serves
as both a guide and a source of conflict for both an individual
and his/her culture by (1) developing an understanding of
what it means to be “spiritual” and “religious”
through a class discussion, (2) researching Hinduism for the
purposes of comparing/contrasting with the definitions of
“spiritual” and “religious,” (3) reading
the text for examples of Hinduism in the daily lives of the
characters and the Indian culture as a whole, (4) understanding
how the Hindu experiences in the novel are universal.
Resource Materials: Nectar in a Sieve, by Kamala Markandaya
Time Frame: 60 minutes for spirituality & religion
discussion -- Pre-reading. 45 minutes for research of Hinduism
projects -- Pre-reading 45 minutes for presentation &
discussion of research. 6-8 days (suggested reading break down) for completion of the novel -- During Reading. 2 activities
of 45 minutes for-- Post-reading
Lesson Plan 1 (Pre-reading), Part A
- The students will write for 5 minutes in their journals answering
the following question: In what ways do you consider yourself
religious and/or spiritual?
- Each student should read over his/her journal with another student
and through discussion they should note the similarities
and differences in their responses to share with the class
- Using two different color pens/pencils, have the students underline
the words associated with being “religious”
with one color and the words associated with being “spiritual”
with the other color. On the board create two lists, one
headed with “religious” and one with “spiritual.”
As the students share the words they have underlined, list
them on the board with the appropriate heading. Words that
are found under both headings should be noted in some way
that stands out (20 minutes).
- After the lists are completed, have students work in small groups
to create specific definitions of each of the two words.
From the definitions created, have students vote on the
“class definition” of each word (10 minutes).
- As a class, use the definitions created to discuss the ways
in which each of these concepts can serve as a source of
both comfort and conflict for individuals and their cultures
(10 minutes). Students should note the ideas that come from
this discussion in their notebooks for future reference.
Lesson Plan 1 (Pre-reading), Part B
The students will research Hinduism in preparation for the reading of the
novel. Ideas/concepts to be researched by the students in
small groups are: underlying philosophy/principles, gods/goddesses,
methods of practice/rituals, gender roles, history, caste
system, and current areas of practice (45 minutes). For homework,
the students should prepare a visual that aids in their presentations
of the information.
Have the students present their findings to the class. The method of
presentation (posters, brochures, jigsaws, etc.) is determined
by teacher preference (30 minutes).
Once the students have a firm grasp of Hinduism, discuss the ways in
which a person who follows Hinduism might be classified as
spiritual as opposed to religious and vice versa. Also, using
the notes from the religious/spiritual discussion consider
the specific conflicts that may have arisen and may still
arise for the followers of Hinduism on an individual level,
a cultural level, or even a national level (15 minutes).
Assessment of Lesson Plan 1
While reading over the next 6-8 nights, the students will keep double-sided
journal entries in which they choose quotes that reflect the
religious and/or spiritual aspects of the characters and/or
the community in which they live. The quotes should be written
on the left side of the page; on the right side, the students
should respond to the quotes referencing the class discussions
and the research presented. Three - five quotes should be
selected per each night’s reading.
Lesson Plan 2 (Post-reading), Part A
In groups of 2 or 3, the students should look through the journal entries
written while reading the novel and pick one scene in which
Hinduism was a source of comfort for the characters and one
scene in which it was a source of conflict. For each chosen
scene, the students should prepare a skit, which emphasizes
the comfort or the conflict in the scene. As the groups present
the skits, discuss with the students the source of comfort
and conflict in each scene, the patterns (setting, events,
characters, etc.) that exist in the scenes, which is more
common in the novel overall -- comfort or conflict -- and why,
etc. (45 minutes).
In their journals, have the students respond to the following question:
In what ways do the spiritual/religious “comforts”
& “conflicts” represented in the novel exemplify
similar situations you have experienced on either an individual
or community-wide level? Discuss the responses with the class
Lesson Plan 2 (Post-reading), Part B
Have students return to the lists created at the beginning of Lesson 1 in
which they differentiated between being religious and being
spiritual. In pairs, the students are to create two informal
“checklists” (one for “religious”
and one for “spiritual”) (5 minutes).
Continuing to work in the same pairs, the students should evaluate the
character of Rukmani on each list in order to determine whether
she is more religious or more spiritual. For each check mark
made, the students should indicate a page number (and possibly
a line or paragraph number) where an example of the indicated
feature can be found (20 minutes). Have the students use their
checklists and chosen examples to informally debate whether
Rukmani is more religious or more spiritual. The students
may also argue that the two concepts are inseparable (20 minutes).
Final Assessment: Students will choose one of the following
two topics about which they will write persuasive essays.
- Determine whether religion/spirituality serves as more of a source of comfort or a source of conflict for the characters in the
- Consider which plays a larger role in the life of Rukmani: religion or spirituality.
Indian terms: glossary located at the end of the book
Literary terms: theme, setting, conflict, plot, character
- “The Grass-Eaters,” by Krishnan Varma
- “The House Opposite,” by R. K. Narayan
- Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
Visual/Oral: Each student will choose the character in the novel that seems
to deal with the most conflict concerning his/her spirituality/religion.
Using either a collage, a mask, a painting, a drawing, etc.,
the students are to represent the chosen character in the
center of the visual and the conflicting ideas pulling at
the character on opposite sides. Should the student determine
that the character is experiencing more than one conflict,
he/she may choose to represent all conflicts or choose the
most challenging conflict to represent as long as opposing
forces in the conflict are clearly represented. Once completed,
each student should present his/her visual to the class clearly
explaining the choices he/she has made in creating the visual.
(This project can also be completed as a small group project
or in pairs.)
- Have the students consider the conflicts discussed concerning religion
and spirituality in the novel and the responses made in their
journals about the “comforts” and “conflicts”
they have experienced. Using these ideas, write a short story
that involves a conflict from the story, but takes place in
our own society.
- Have the students choose the scene they believe presents the largest
conflict involving religion/spirituality and re-write the
scene from another character’s perspective. They may
choose any character as long as that character was originally
in the scene.
New Jersey Core Content Standards:
3.1.14 Use clear, concise, organized language in speaking situations (research presentations, class discussions).
3.2.11 Demonstrate comprehension of, and appropriate listener response to, ideas in a persuasive speech, an oral interpretation of
a literary selection, interviews in a variety of real-life situations, and educational and scientific presentations (research
presentations, class discussions, small group discussions).
3.4.28 Analyze how the works of a given literary period reflect historical events and social conditions (Hinduism research projects, reading).
Global Citizen 2000 Modules -- Core Questions Addressed:
Global Literature Module:
- What are universal experiences?
- How do they relate to the concerns of the adolescent reader/writer?
- How does personal experience reflect cultural experience?
- How can literature help readers to understand global issues?
Religion and Spirituality
- Where can people see global forces at work in their daily lives?
- How does the study of global literature foster empathy with others?