In India, we pay our respects to our teachers on 5th September, which is celebrated across educational institutions as Teachers’ Day. This year, I was fortunate to witness Teachers’ Day celebrations at the Satsang Vidyalaya.
The school had planned a small-scale function to pay homage to Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in its School Hall. The gathering at Satsang Vidyalaya included all the students, teachers and supporting staff of the school. Mr. Stephen Mathews, the Principal, began by introducing the significance of 5th September to the students.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a well-respected teacher and erudite scholar who went on to become India’s most respected President, was born on 5th September. When he became the President of India, a group of teachers once visited him to wish him on his birthday. The President’s innate wisdom, nobility and selflessness was evident when he told the visiting teachers that henceforth his birth anniversary should be observed as a day of respect for teachers, rather than as his birthday. Months later, the Indian Parliament declared 5th September as Teachers’ Day in deference to the wish of this loving and most respected public figure of the time.
Subsequently, the program for the day commenced. A group of class XI and X girls began reciting the Vinayak Stuti for an auspicious beginning.
Each teacher was then invited to pay floral tributes before the picture of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Thereafter, a specially decorated chair was brought and kept in the front of the picture. Everyone kept wondering about the relevance of the chair. Soon, the teachers were called out one by one to occupy the chair. Each teacher came and sat in the chair to loud cheers, whistles and applause of their adoring students.
Next was a unique and moving gesture by the school to honour its teachers. Something that will remain in my memory for a long time.
As soon as the teacher occupied the chair, his or her students were called upon. What a touching sight it was to see the enthusiasm of many tiny tots who broke into a sprint at each call. Thereafter, on reaching their teacher, their tiny hands draped a shawl around their guru. It was as if they were draping their teachers with their love. They also gave special gifts to their teachers as a mark of respect.
The felicitation was extended to all the 16 teachers of the school. Throughout the ceremony, the cheers from the students kept getting louder as the teachers were accorded vociferous appreciations. This felicitation ceremony was followed by games like musical chairs for the teachers, accompanied by ample cheering from the students.
It was truly moving to see the effusive love being showered by both sides. The tiny but symbolic ceremony was saturated with warmth and mutual respect from teachers and students. The smiling faces of the students indicated how much the teachers love them. As a visitor, it was immensely satisfying to see this warm and jovial atmosphere, which truly went beyond any manufactured or obligatory behaviour. This happiness was indeed real and nurturing.