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St Xavier’s Annual Day programme ‘Be a Rainbow’: Celebrating Unity in Diversity

By Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ*
St Xavier’s School Loyola Hall, Ahmedabad had its Annual Day programme on today! Actually, it was one of a series of Annual Days; today it was the turn of the Junior KG, Senior KG, Stds. I and II. The littlest ones in the school, all between the ages of four to seven years. Being an event of a community ministry and on the campus itself, I planned to be at the programme for a short while and return since I had some other deadlines to meet. That was not to be! I stayed right through the more than two hours programme and enjoyed every moment of it! I am now back in my room, penning down some of my thoughts that flowed all through the programme and continue to do so!
The theme of the Annual Day programme was ‘Be a Rainbow’. The tiny tots performed about a dozen different programmes: mainly dance and action songs! After months of closure due to the pandemic, physical schooling began for them, less than a month ago. Putting up any programme, in such a short time-span, would have been a herculean task for anyone. Much more when one has to deal with those who are so very small. The teachers and trainers and others concerned would surely have put in their heart and soul to get the children to perform.
They did perform: With gay abandonment! In simplicity and in spontaneity! Some did not stand in the place which was assigned to them; some of them were desperately trying to locate their parents in the pavilion and to wave to them; the actions of some just did not synchronise with the rest – but all this did NOT matter! With the innocence which childhood is all about – they were there on stage to be themselves, to enjoy. They did so with gusto and to the vociferous delight of the huge crowd which was present to witness a child-centred performance!
Be a Rainbow that celebrates diversity: The programme was also about that! The children undoubtedly belonged to different faiths and cultures; sizes and capacities. Nothing mattered! They were all there! Giving of their best! A reflection of what India is all about! The beauty in diversity! The wealth it should mean to all of us! The courage to adapt to and to learn from another!
Be a Rainbow that symbolises unity: That’s what they were obviously celebrating! Unity in diversity! That togetherness! A synergy which Mahatma Gandhi forged on 12 March 1930 from the banks of the River Sabarmati in Ahmedabad to Dandi in South Gujarat! A salt satyagraha! Very different from what some patriarchs were plotting and strategizing today in Ahmedabad, in order to destroy our unity in diversity; the wealth of our pluralistic fabric – by denigrating the ‘other’!
Be a Rainbow that vibrates colours: It was indeed a festival of colour! An early celebration of Holi- which is just a week away. The children were dolled up in a colourful array of costumes. They wore them with the pride and exuberance of someone on a cat-walk! They were fully conscious of the graceful colours they brought to the occasion. They were not shy: they were the rainbow!
Be a Rainbow that communicates love: There was absolutely nothing that kept them away from ‘being friendly’ all through the evening. It would certainly have been exhausting for the little ones. Their parents had to bring them to the school, much before the actual start of the programme! But nothing mattered as they daintily held the hands of each other! It was far more than a ‘dil maange more’ scene. It was a love that transcended exclusiveness, pettiness and bigotness!
Be a Rainbow that exudes joy: It was sheer joy as they danced (and sang) the disco and the bhangra, the raas and the garba and much more! There was the traditional music and modern off-beat ones – even ‘waka, waka’! They demonstrated the impact of digital technology on their lives and exhibited their care for Mother Earth. The atmosphere was pregnant with joy!
Be a Rainbow that radiates light: It has been scientifically proved that rainbows appear after dark and heavy clouds. In more ways than one, rainbows dispel the darkness. After days of being marooned, the ark is opened to the welcome light of the rainbow. The children this evening were certainly rainbows who radiated light. A light so that we, who were watching them, could see!
Be a Rainbow that is full of hope: That is exactly what a rainbow is all about! A hope for the future! The promise for a better tomorrow! The staff and the children will ensure that their performance next time will be even better! The children today gave to all a very strong message: that they want unity to vanquish divisiveness, love to negate hate, diversity to kayo majoritarianism, colour to outdo uniformity and truth to triumph over untruth. This is their rainbow of hope!
Jesuit Fr Xavier Amalraj, the Principal of the School, in his address to the gathering said:
“Through such a theme (Be a Rainbow) we wish to convey a message of hope and joy; of peace and harmony; this message radiates so beautifully from our little ones who through their innocence have so much to teach all of us. Their spontaneity, their inclusiveness, their simplicity, their joys, their creativity all contribute to the colourful diversity that make up a rainbow. This rainbow is about our children: a sign of hope, of the radiance in their lives, of the happiness they give all of us. The rainbow is about the diversity which characterizes our beloved motherland reflected so much in St Xavier’s School Loyola Hall all these years.”
The great American civil rights leader and poet Maya Angelou says:
“To be the rainbow in someone’s cloud means to cultivate loving kindness as a daily practice in your life. It means tuning in to your heart, practicing empathy and using that empathy to connect to the people around you in a meaningful way. We all have the opportunity to be someone’s rainbow”.
How very true! We need to learn from her wisdom! All through the programme I could not help humming that song by the famous Swedish duo Nina and Frederik ‘Counting colours in a rainbow.’ It was quite a hit tune, way back when I was a little child. The song goes:

Counting colours in a rainbow
When the sun has made the rain go
In all those colours I see above me
I count the blessings of someone who loves me

Counting colours in a rainbow
Every time the clouds of grey go
A thrill it gives me to know that with me
There will be millions who can share my rainbow

When our world is dark with stormy weather
Should we fear and tremble? Never, never
Someone who takes care of us forever
Paints a lovely miracle on high

I am still humming that song as I lay my weary self to sleep. I feel all the more challenged now to ‘be a rainbow’!

*Human rights, reconciliation and peace activist/writer. Penned on March 13



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