Lalita Devadas, Pallavi Krishnamurthy and Srilekha Murthy
Early Sunday morning on April 29th, young children and their parents filled the field house of Lexington High School. Upon entering, they received an “Exploration Pass” and a “Program” which guided the visitors through the two sections of the event, the performances, and the booths.
The performances kicked off with an alumni band playing Jana Gana Mana, the Indian national anthem, and the Star Spangled Banner, the American national anthem. The skilled rendition of both pieces was moving for children and parents alike. This was followed by eight dances, mostly folk dances representing the different regions of India, such as Kashmir, Assam, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. Girls and boys alike danced in colorful costumes to traditional music. A musical tribute to Shishu Bharati sung by the youngest students, rounded out the performances!
The event was far from over. Families traveled between fifteen different booths exploring topics such as cuisine, textiles and traditional attire, games, languages and arts of India, the historical timeline and India’s influence on the world. The children earned a stamp on their Exploration Pass at each booth. Fun crafts kept the little ones engaged and learning. One of the most interesting and insightful booths was "What India Means to Me,” which was created by the kindergarteners. Students made posters of their experiences in India. It was truly inspiring to see how our kindergarteners viewed the land they or their families came from? They were simply proud of their heritage!
Once guests had visited every booth, they could sit down for a delectable luncheon catered by an Indian Restaurant. After a long, tiring day, the delicious Indian food really hit the spot! Visitors left the place reluctantly but with fond memories and many with Indian-Flag face paintings on their smiley faces!
While all visitors appreciated the hard work put into this event, many wondered just how much time had been spent perfecting the performances and booths! Dance groups practiced for weeks and students, teachers, administrative-staff, and parents came to the field house Saturday afternoon to set up the booths and decorate the place. Only meticulous planning and tireless dedication could have made something like this possible.
Shishu Bharati, the Indian “Sunday School” which teaches kids about Indian culture and languages, holds such an event once a year. All three branches – Walpole, Lexington, and Nashua, NH – about 1400 people participated, making this Shishu Bharati’s largest gathering to date.
When asked about his feelings toward the event, Ravi Bharadwaj, a parent of Shishu Bharati students, answered with a smile, “I want every kid to know about their origins and their roots: the country, the stories, the philosophies, the history, the people, the culture... Everything… I mean everything”
This year’s event was a resounding success, and knowing the incredible commitment and enthusiasm of Shishu Bharati’s students, teachers, administrative-staff and parents, one would surely guess the next year would be even better. So, let us all join next year for another spectacular and exciting journey of Explore India!
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