One of the guiding principles in the Hindu culture is that a teacher is a person of honor. On Saturday, May 4, a group of Hindu families from Wilton held a celebration called a Guru Vandana to pay tribute and thank their children’s teachers.
As explained by Wilton resident Sarvesh Damle, “‘Guru’ is a Sanskrit term associated with someone who is a ‘teacher, guide, expert, or master’ of certain knowledge or a field. A ‘Guru’ or ‘The Teacher’ is held in high esteem in the Hindu culture and embodies a great significance in our lives. It is rightly said the noblest profession, that of a great teacher can never be erased. It takes a big heart to help guide and shape young minds.”
Damle’s family along with others from Wilton invited several teachers and principals from schools in town to attend. They hosted the Guru Vandana ceremony that allows the students to honor their teachers through a lamp lighting–representing the blaze of knowledge that dispels the darkness of ignorance–as well as a cultural show and presentation on Indian traditions. The children then ceremonially thanked the teachers, offering gifts and homages.
The event was held at Comstock Community Center, sponsored by a non-profit social and cultural organization called Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) USA, whose mission is to organize the Hindu community to preserve, practice and promote Hindu ideals and values. HSS leads structured, regular athletic and academic activities to develop strong character and leadership skills in its members, emphasizing values such as self-discipline, self-confidence and a spirit of selfless service for humanity.
Several teachers from the Wilton Public Schools attended, including: Lauren Feltz (Middlebrook principal); Mary Katherine Durkin (MB); Margaret Sheehan (MB); Kendra Norman (MB); Jennifer Ginsberg (MB); Nicholas Loafman (Wilton High School); Suzanne Steadham (WHS); Jennifer Dunn (MB); John Priest (MB); Lori Ulrich (MB); Mary Ellen Epstein (MB); Michael Gordon (MB); Michael Panoli (MB); and Fernando Fernandes (WHS).
In return, as part of the program, several of the teachers also offered their thanks and appreciation.
Jennifer Dunn, a Middlebrook World Language teacher thanked the group for having such a love of learning in the classroom, which she called inspiring, adding, “That’s what makes us the teachers that we are.”
She added, “Coming here today, I learned so much. Even though my students think that I, as a World Language teacher, know so much about the world, I don’t at all, so I am grateful today to have been invited and gone on this journey and learned so much about your culture.”