At St. Ignatius
Students of grade 11 at St. Ignatius Loyola stood up twice, once for the national anthem and once for us. The "us" was Goura from our temple ashram, Nitai Priya, our temple receptionist and I. "We" engaged the class in chanting and dancing. I selected one of the more outgoing kids of each gender to come up front with us to boost the spirit of the others in the class. It worked but mainly it was because of the teacher who was so much into it. She was terrific.
In fact she had stumbled upon us at last summer's Ratha Yatra festival, the Krishna's largest outdoor event at the Toronto Islands. Although Catholic, she was open enough to love what we were doing.
In the beginning when we walked into the classroom, I saw mandalas hanging along the blackboard. "We just finished teaching about Buddhism and that's the reason for the mandalas." She said. "Darn," I thought, "These brightly patterned hangings could have been easily upstaged by the brilliant picture of Jaganath (Sri Krishna) that I was think about bringing as a part of our presentation. Oh well, we do have ourselves to appear colourful."
I think we did appear so. Goura Explained how when he was young he went to secular school only to get bullied a lot and then got the relief of his life by attending a Krishna boarding school in India. And Nitai Priya explained to the students what the tilak was all about - sacred clay applied to the forehead to indicate humility by shaping the form of God's footprint with the substance at the mid-brow area. Then I explained what is a chadar, a shawl which (I demonstrated) becomes a coat, a seat, a blanket and a begging cloth all in one.
I took the opportunity to explain "dharma", to walk the line of duty, to stay on the road and don't be distracted by the things around you. One major principle in our sacred book, The Bhagavad Gita, is to be committed to duty and results will be what they will be. Stick to dharma and feel protected.
All in all, I think we were colourful to the students.