During the months of May and June 2017, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA (HSS) organized ‘Guru Vandana’ events across the United States to honour teachers and their contribution in the society.
More than 1250 teachers, principals, and superintendent as well as a total of over 6500 attendees (which includes HSS families as well dance, music, arts, karate, physical fitness teachers and coaches), participated in 65 events held from North to South and East to West in over 20 states.
The U.S. celebrates the first week of May as “Teachers’ Appreciation Week” and Tuesday of the same week as “National Teachers’ Day”. Hindu philosophy and culture considers the Guru as the “Supreme Being” who invokes and sustains the light of knowledge while eliminating the darkness of ignorance.
Our lives are touched and inspired by countless teachers in schools, colleges and many other activities that we participate and excel in. To acknowledge and appreciate these Gurus who silently shape our lives, HSS volunteers across the USA held Guru Vandana during their weekend activities in the Month of May and at some places in June.
In a typical event, the children presented a cultural program where Sanskrit ‘shlokas’ were recited in the honour of the Guru. The ‘shlokas’ focused on the significance of the Guru, comparing the Guru to God, and pointing out the Guru’s role in achieving the supreme knowledge. A local chief guest shared his or her thoughts with the audience, followed by a teacher appreciation ceremony.
At several places, this event included a cultural program where children participated and presented their talent in classical dances, songs, and musical instruments. Some children developed their own innovative skits such as on scientists like Jagadish Chandra Bose and Einstein.
Some presented their training in Indian martial arts, Yoga, and other team activities. All these events were organized by local HSS centres and were planned as well as coordinated by teenage children and their families.
Teachers and attendees were impressed by the level of involvement by students in all age groups and the way they respected their teachers. Some teachers especially enjoyed the Hindu way of performing aarti with kumkum on the forehead, offering flowers, and the offering of sweets, followed by bowing down in front of the teacher.
Many appreciated the meaning of Guru in Hindu philosophy, that she/he is the Guru who instils the knowledge, inculcates it to practice and in the process helps to diminish the darkness of ignorance.
A meaning that resonated was the different definition of a teacher as a friend, philosopher, and guide. School teachers especially appreciated this event that not only acknowledged their passion and hard work but also gave them an opportunity to gain an exposure to Hindu culture and its all-inclusive philosophy.
Students during their presentations or while acting as event emcees, liberally showered a praise on their teachers by sharing how they learned math or English or dance or something else and how teachers made them confident and independent thinkers.
Parents not only enjoyed the event but appreciated it, as it helped their children to participate, made their children think the importance of the Guru in their lives and also became an opportunity to interact with teachers and school representatives.
HSS national coordinator for Guru Vandana events, Anjali Patel, while expressing her satisfaction, said, “The Guru Vandana program provides an opportunity to show the gratitude to teachers in Hindu way. Children feel good about their culture while teachers get a pleasure of meeting their students' families and experiencing a unique way of appreciation by the entire community.”