Festivals are a vital part of Waldorf Education. They provide nourishment to the individual and bring the community together in meaningful ways. The festival is an anniversary that brings to a community the richness of story and song, light and food and celebrates our shared humanity. Expressing our ageless struggle from darkness toward light, each festival is a mood, an attitude, an experience; it is a social expression that reflects and celebrates an entire season.
Many festivals are celebrated community-wide. Some festivals are celebrated with the children in the grades classes. The kindergartens observe most festivals independently, often with their class parents invited to participate.
Festivals may also be celebrated within the curriculum presented in the grades. These festivals are brought with the help of parents or teachers who have a strong connection with the culture being studied. A meal may be served, songs sung, or dances learned.
Additional class assemblies and community gatherings add to the richness of the year. The grades students meet on most Fridays (Friday Gathering) to share songs, verses and plays – all community members are welcome! The community also gathers together to celebrate the first and last days of school, and Diwali and Christmas party.
Seasonal festivals serve to connect humanity with the rhythms of nature and of the cosmos. The festivals originated in ancient cultures, yet have been adapted over time. To join the seasonal moods of the year, in a festive way, benefits the inner life of the soul. The simple rituals create the mood and ambience for prayer and celebration to happen and touches children at a deeper level. For kindergarten children and early graders the celebration of festivals gives a sense of time and seasons.
Hence, the celebration of festivals has always been an important part of Waldorf education. There is joy in the anticipation, the preparation, the celebration itself, and the memories. A common experience of joy and reverence – Singing, dancing, stories, food and sharing are all a part of the festivals of the year.
Swadhaa celebrated the following festivals and many more through the year.
At Swadhaa, the ceremony involves the entire school community. The second to fifth graders welcomed the Kindergarteners who transitioned to grade school with crowns made of leaves and a welcome tunnel to pass through and into the world of Grades. Greeted traditionally by their class teachers with a tilak and Aarti, accompanied by beautiful singing.
The giving and receiving of flowers adds grace and beauty,acknowledging that every child is valuable and worthy.
Watching this ceremony is always a very touching experience for all. This transition is an important threshold for every child and its family. Most children have spent some years in Kindergarten and after this wonderful period are striving to move on, to learn further. It is one step ahead into the world and towards independence. It is the beginning of a new path after which the young people enter into the world as free individuals.
Vitthal, Vitthal, Jai Hari Vitthal! This is the mood at Swadhaa as the little warkaris carry a palkhi with the image of Vitthal in a dindi (procession) and chant the name of the lord.
Kids were told stories about saints and ‘bhakti', they make ladoos from jaggery and groundnuts.
A day to honor the most important pillar of our society and of Waldorf education – our teachers and gurus! The day begins with guru pujan and chanting of guru stotras. The children offer their obeisance to all their teachers.
Nāga prītā bhavanti śāntimāpnoti bia viboh
saśanti loka mā sādhya modate sasthitaḥ samaḥ
The festival is towards taking a pause and expressing our gratitude and reverence to other creatures co-inhabiting the earth with us and supporting us through their existence.
School friendships are a Cradle of – laughter and play, quarrels and fights, care and share, and a promise of being there!
This is the spirit of Rakshabandhan celebration at Swadhaa. The children create beautiful Rakhis, and cook Nariyal Barfee. They pray for the safe venturing of the fishermen back to the sea and tie Rakhis to their friends in school.
This mingling of the children across various ages and creating everlasting bonds has always been the highlight of Rakshabandhan at Swadhaa.
Children are free beings – free of conflicts, borders and political views. Hence celebration of Independence day was not part of Swadhaa. However, with grade 5 children learning Geography and History of India, it is an interesting opportunity to introduce Independence day celebrations. Children sing songs about the beauty of the mountains and rivers in India and share their dreams about contributing towards a better India. We sow seeds and plant new trees as a community activity.
A synonym for joy and celebration, Lord Krishna’s life appeals to children, youth and adults alike – an inspiration to live life to the fullest under any circumstances. There is a week long celebration on the occasion of Janmashtami in school. The children make colourful rangolis and Krishna’s footsteps using rice flour paste and also churn Kanha’s favourite makkhan (white butter)!
The KG teachers recreate the ‘birth of Krishna – Vasudev crossing the river’ scene through a wonderful puppet show. Followed by live musical performance by professional artists, bhajans, rocking the cradle and a mesmerizing live indian classical dance performance bringing alive the stories of Krishna and the gopis.
The highlight, however, is the dahihandi event! The kids roll their sleeves, tuck in their ghagras and gear up together to break the handi. The team effort is commendable and fun!
Not just the city, the world of Swadhaa buzzes with activity as Lord Ganesha pays us his annual visit!
The air is filled with festivities and merriment. Every morning at Swadhaa, all Grade children gather to celebrate the festival of Ganpati, the deity of wisdom. Each class lead the morning celebration in turns and decorate the area, made rangoli and lead the singing for others to follow. The leading class also cooks Modaks as Prasad for the day.
Traditionally, all the classical art-forms were performed or made as on offering to the Higher One. At Swadhaa too,children training in classical art-forms make their offerings through songs, dance and musical instruments.
A day to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. The day is abuzz with activities. The kindergarteners wash the van that they travel in everyday. Whereas the older children clean and care for their equipments.
A start of Diwali vacations, a time to reconnect with friends, meet new families, and enjoy a potluck dinner together.
Children and teachers prepare a langar. They hear inspiring stories of Nanakji and sing the Gurbani. The day culminates by having the delicious food that everyone has prepared. 'Wahe Guru Wahe Guru' reverberates through the campus.