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The festival of Vasant Panchami: A new beginning

To celebrate new beginnings in life and learning.

by Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To celebrate new beginnings in life and learning.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly might be used either to coincide with the festival of Vasant Panchami (15 February) or, alternatively, later in March. 
  • Some vases of daffodils to provide a point of focus – ideally some in bud and others which warmth has brought into fuller flower.
  • An OHP or flip-chart for the springtime alphabet.  

Assembly

  1. Reflect that for many in the northern hemisphere, spring begins on 21 March. However, in India many Hindus mark the first day of spring with the festival of Vasant Panchami, held between late January and mid February.
  2. The festival is dedicated to Saraswat, goddess of learning and wisdom, and it’s the tradition at this time for young children to begin learning how to write the alphabet. Those of Hindu faith believe that this practice will bring blessing and wisdom.
  3. Invite the school community to reflect upon new beginnings.

    When and how did they learn the alphabet? 

    Do any recall their first day at school? 

    How has their knowledge and understanding grown?
  4. Challenge everyone with the task of creating an alphabet, associating each letter with springtime sights and feelings.

    Explain that the task isn’t easy. Everyone’s help will be needed. Refer to the vases of daffodils. We learn together, and are ‘brightest in a bunch’. Just as the warmth of the sun brings buds to flower, it’s encouragement that brings out the best in us!

    Start with the letters A to E. In a springtime alphabet:

    A
    might be for awake and alive
    B for buds, busy bees, and brilliant butterflies
    C for cheerful crocuses and colourful changes
    D for dancing daffodils and delight
    E for energy, eggs and excitement.

    Point out that some of the words also describe positive approaches to learning.

    Will members of the school community be ‘awake and alive’ to new ideas?

    How ‘busy, brilliant and cheerful’ will they be in making new beginnings?
  5. Refer again to the vases of daffodils. By the end of school more buds will be in flower. Express the hope that the day will also bring out the best in every member of the school community!

    (Place the daffodils in a place where the community will be able to see them opening.)

Time for reflection

Just as the warmth of the sun
opens leaves and buds
so may being together today
open our hearts and minds to learn.

Song/music

‘Living and learning’  (Songs for Every Assembly, Out of the Ark Music)
‘It’s a new day!’ (Come and Praise, 106)

Publication date: February 2013   (Vol.15 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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