Here is how I introduced the concept of Gurupuja (respecting the people who guide us in life) to children and their friends on the occasion of Gurupurnima (the most auspicious full moon day of the year).
Siva: Before I tell you why we assembled here, I have a simple question to all of you. Who is a Human being?
Many children raised their hands.
Child: Someone who has got life?
Siva: Even plants have got life…
Child: Someone who can think?
Siva: Right. We think better than animals. Is that all?
Child: Someone who has got a face, two hands and can walk on two legs!
There was thunderous applause:-)
Siva: Our body and mind are the tools we are equipped with. Who are us?
Children were silent.
Siva: Here is the answer. A human being is a SEED, with unlimited potential. You know how a small seed can produce a huge tree, right?
Siva: Same with human seed too. We can grow big, huge. But the game here is, NOT all the seeds will grow big. Suppose I throw a handful of plant seeds on to the ground. Do you think all of them will sprout and grow big?
Siva: Right, some will sprout and some might simply be eaten by birds or goats (making a chewing sound)!
Children were laughing, while I put some black dots on the whiteboard at random places.
Siva: Do you see these dots?
Siva: These are the seeds. These are YOU.
There was pin drop silence.
Siva: We want you to grow big, NOT remain a seed or a sprout. How big you grow depends on two things: One, how big you would dream and, Two, how well you would realize your dream.
Siva (drawing circles around the dots): These circles are your dreams (see the picture in the comment section below). The bigger your (realized) dream is, the bigger you grow.
Smaller children were having great fun and were clapping while watching those circles. Everyone likes circles, because circles indicate completeness.
Siva: There are two kinds of dreams. One that you dream for only yourself, one that you dream for…..(expanding my hands)
Siva: Right, for everyone around you. Now comes the secret. If your dream is only for your self, you will have to work all the way to realize your dream. If you dream for everyone around you, your dream gets realized very easily. Whatever effort you put in, Nature will put in 10 times more effort to fulfill your dream.
Children were astonished.
Siva: You can have both kinds of dreams. Btw, how should you dream?
Children: To become great
Siva: No. You need to dream to DO or MAKE something great (happen). What you BECOME comes next.
(Note: I think Parents/teachers should never tell children WHAT to dream. If the parents are already working on great dreams, children will own those dreams automatically. Otherwise, we need to expose children to other people who are working on great dreams, so that children get inspired and create their own dreams and work on realizing them).
Siva: Btw, what does a seed need to sprout and grow bigger?
Children: Earth, water, air and sunlight…
Siva: Right. Similarly, you, the human seed also need them. Your Mother is your Earth and Water. Your Father is your Air.
Child (with a big smile on his face): Do you mean I drink my Mother?
There was huge uproar:-)
Siva: Yes, you drank your Mother’s milk at least.
Child (stunned, but the big smile is in tact): OK, what about my Father? Does he enter my nose and become my breathing?
Siva: Whatever your Mother does for you is visible. She gave you Body, so she represents Earth. She gave you Milk, So she represents Water too. But whatever your father does is not visible. That’s why he represents Air. A plant cannot survive without Air, right?
Child (convinced): Right.
Siva: Our parents gave us Earth, Water and Air. What else we (human seeds) need?
Siva: Right. Who is the Sun for us?
Children (in loud voice): Our Teachers!
Siva: Right. Your Parents and Teachers did so much for you so far. I can see you have all sprouted. They want you to grow bigger and bigger. They will keep doing their best for you to have great dreams and realize them. Today is the day we express our thankfulness to our parents and teachers for what they did for us. Your parents will first pay respects to their parents first. Then you can do the same to your parents and teachers.
We started playing Gurupaduka Stotram in the background and offered respects to our parents and teachers. It was a tremendously enriching experience for everyone present. Watch this video for a glimpse of it.