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 consider the Guru 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 in which we excel. To acknowledge and appreciate these Gurus who silently shape our lives, during May and June 2023, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA (HSS) organized Guru Vandana events across the nation to honor teachers and their contribution to society. More than 1000 academicians, including teachers, principals, and superintendents from over 60 school districts, were appreciated during these events, attended by more than 6000 attendees comprising students, parents, and other invitees.
In a typical event, the children presented a cultural program where Sanskrit shlokas were recited, honoring 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 supreme knowledge. A local chief guest shared their thoughts with the audience, followed by a teacher appreciation ceremony.
This event included a cultural program at several places where children participated and presented their talent in classical dances, songs, and musical instruments. Darshana, a popular exhibition on Hindu Civilization developed by HSS volunteers, was held at several places. Young student members of HSS led the presentation at each Darshana poster and explained various facets of Hindu Dharma, Philosophy, Yoga, and other civilizational aspects. Some children developed innovative skits reflecting great personalities from India and the U.S. Some presented their training in Indian martial arts, Yoga, and other team activities. Some locations had game stalls and information stalls on various cultural and philosophical aspects. All these events were organized by local HSS centers and planned and coordinated by teenage children and their families. In some places, HSS collaborated with the local townships to involve the school district.
Teachers and attendees were impressed by students’ level of involvement in all age groups and how they respected their teachers. Some teachers especially enjoyed the Hindu way of performing aarti with kumkum on the forehead, offering flowers, and offering sweets, followed by bowing down in front of the teacher. School teachers especially appreciated this event. They acknowledged their passion and hard work and how this event introduced them to Hindu culture and its all-inclusive philosophy.
During their presentations or acting as event emcees, students liberally showered praise on their teachers by sharing how they learned math, English, dance, or something else and how teachers made them confident and independent thinkers.
Parents enjoyed the event and appreciated it, as it helped their children to participate, made them think about the importance of the Guru in their lives, and became an opportunity to interact with teachers and school representatives.
Following are some of the comments received by the attendees:
“I feel humbled by the love and respect shown by the Hindu community towards us. It’s heartwarming to see such appreciation and recognition for our work. I got to learn so much about Hindu Culture today,” – A school teacher from Wilton, CT.
“People are very involved in honoring our teachers, which I think is a fantastic endeavor,” – New Buffalo Grove Village, IL, President Eric Smith.
“It is important for the students to connect the modern subjects with the knowledge from their own culture. It leads to personalized learning for the students. I have taken pictures to reference back to them later.” – A social sciences teacher from the 6th grade from a Boston, MA, area school.