In India, October and November are the start of festival season, the equivalent of Thanksgiving through New Years in the USA.
However, before festival season begins Hindus observe Shradh, a 15-day period of remembrance when respect is paid to late family members and ancestors. Rituals are performed and food offerings are made. Observers don’t go shopping during Shradh, only essentials are purchased. Parties, engagements and marriages and other festivities are never held during Shradh. Instead, it is a time of solemn reflection. In 2020 the dates for Shradh were September 1-7.
The day Shradh ends festival season begins with the first day of Navratri, one of the biggest Hindu festivals of the year. For nine days and nights a special puja to Goddess Durga is observed in the morning and each evening a portion of the Ramayana is read or performed on stage. Stages, big and small are erected throughout town where scenes from the Ramayana are performed late into the night. This year the dates for Navratri are October 17 -25.
On the eighth day of Navratri there is a special ceremony called Kanya Jeevan. This ceremony is dedicated to little girls and boys. The small children are honored as incarnations of God. Their feet are washed, they are hand-fed a specially cooked meal, draped in a symbolic red scarf and given small gifts. In 2020 Kanya Jeevan will be held on October 23.
The final, tenth night of Navratri, is called Dushera. On Dushera Lord Ram slays Ravana and is reunited with Princess Sita. Giant effigies of Ravana are built throughout cities, towns and villages. After a drama reenacting Ram slaying Ravana, the effigy of Ravana is set on fire to the cheers of “Jai Sri Ram!” Fire crackers are often placed inside Ravana to emphasis his demise. Dushera is a celebration of good over evil, the day when positive energy brings success and victory into our lives. This year Dushera will be celebrated on October 25.
Jai Sri Ram. Jai Hanuman!
Posted October 8, 2020
By the children of Sri Ram Ashram
Teachers’ Day is celebrated annually in India to thank and remember all the teachers. It is celebrated on September 5, the birth anniversary of the country’s former President, scholar, philosopher and Bharat Ratna awardee, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
The tradition of celebrating Teachers’ Day started in 1969 in India. On this day, the teachers and students go to school as usual, but the activities are held as celebrations. Teachers are given various kinds of gifts by their students. Some people not only thank their academic teachers, but also the teachers who taught them the real meaning of life.
We, the children of Sri Ram Ashram, celebrate this prestigious day at our school, Shri Ram Vidya Mandir, with the teachers and other students of the school. As usual, the school begins with the morning assembly. We sing prayers, speak about the day, the importance of a teacher in our lives and some interesting facts. The principal also addresses the assembly and blesses all the children. The morning assembly is dismissed by national anthem, which is the daily routine. Eventually, students head to their respective classrooms.
Unlike the other days, the classes are taken by the students of class 12. Class 12 students come to school dressed up as teachers, like the head boy and the head girl act as the principal for the day. Students who have interest in English, mathematics, Hindi, science etc. act as the English teacher, mathematics teacher, Hindi teacher, science teacher, respectively.
Teachers also come to the school, dressed up beautifully. As mentioned earlier, the first two classes are taken by the students of class 12. Meanwhile, the students go and gift the teachers with presents. And, all this time, grade 11 students are busy decorating the assembly ground and getting ready for the performances they have prepared. Then, a bell rings, signaling the whole school to gather at the assembly ground.
Class 11 students are responsible for all the celebration activities. They start with a guru mantra and a religious dance performance. Then, the principal, along with the chief guests, is called upon the stage to lighten the lamp of knowledge and prosperity. Students, then, perform various acts and dances. In between, teachers are called upon for some fun games. Teachers compete with each other and the winner(s) is/are awarded with interesting prizes.
The most fun part is the “titles.” Titles are the descriptions of the teachers (in the form of short poems), written by the students of grade 11. A student would speak out loud, a title of a teacher, and the whole school would guess who is being talked about.
Then the teacher, escorted by a class 12 student, comes forward to receive the title. When they walk forward, a song is played, which is dedicated to that particular teacher. We all have a lot of fun!
Next is a photo session of all the teachers. When the celebration is ended, all the students go to their homes and teachers party at school. They share their thoughts about the importance of teachers’ day and the fun-filled moments they spent with each other, playing games, receiving gifts and dancing together. At last, they have a feast and savor the enjoyment of their day.
September 9, 2020, A Cross-Cultural Exchange: Since the founding of Mount Madonna School (MMS), the MMS community has enjoyed a strong connection with the Sri Ram Ashram in India. Through the decades, many MMS students (some since preschool) have appreciated this cross-cultural connection, and yet over the years this connection has faded. The new MMS-Sri Ram Ashram Connection Committee, is made up of a group of interested high school students, and advised by faculty member Harjit Punj. It was formed to rebuild this connection between our two communities, with a goal of connecting our communities through a cross-cultural exchange.
Some of the ways we plan on establishing this connection are through educational posters about different traditions and general news at the ashram and a Facebook page where kids from MMS and the ashram can share and explore each other’s cultures. We hope you will join us in the rebuilding of a bridge that we have known for so long. – Grace Timan, 11th grade, on behalf of the MMS-Sri Ram Ashram Connection Committee.