Inspiring Life-long Learning for 25 Years
4th & 5th Grade Field Trip
Week before last our 4th and 5th graders ventured out to visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett.
A Mandir is a sacred Hindu place of worship, and this particular Mandir is a masterpiece of exotic design and workmanship. Over 7000 tons of Italian Cararra marble and Turkish limestone were hand-carved by skilled craftsmen in India and assembled in Barlett over a time span of only sixteen months. The children were particularly impressed with the way the building was assembled, likening it to puzzle pieces clicking into place, with the caveat that once together, they cannot be separated. This was compared to family—how we are bound together, no matter what, once we join together as family.
The Haveli, next to the Mandir, welcomes visitors into the magnificent foyer. This space is intricately hand-carved from teak wood, reflecting the traditional courtyard craftsmanship of India. Columns, lotus flowers, peacocks and elephants adorn the Haveli, and carry meaningful symbolism from ancient Hindu scriptures and culture.
The group was able to witness a traditional Arti prayer ritual while visiting the Mandir. They watched in silence, and at the end were invited to join in by passing their cupped hands over the flame, then reverently raising their palms to their forehead, receiving the blessing. Later in the tour, they visited the Abhishek, where they took part in an ancient ritual where olive water is ceremoniously poured over the golden murti, while seeking blessings for family, friends or self.
The children were in awe of the magnificence of the place. They were respectful of the culture and tradition in unexpected ways, such as removing their shoes upon arrival, walking in sock feet upon the cold marble floor, and sitting within the Mandir, separated, with boys in front and girls in the back. They were moved by the beauty of the buildings, detail of the craftsmanship and the peacefulness they felt. As I interviewed the class, I could sense the introspection they still carried—a week later—from their experience of facing something new and different, their eyes opened wider to the world from their adventure.