In wake of terrorism’s spread across the globe, love is our only hope. Love is the only antidote to acts of hatred. St Francis, in his famous prayer, entreats God: "Where there is hatred, let me sow love." Last week, over two hundred students from Thane sowed the seeds of love when they celebrated Rakshabandhan in a unique way. Ninety boys and girls in need of special care bonded with more than 150 students from 12 different regular schools including DAV Public School, Holy Cross Convent, Hiranandani Foundation School, Saraswati Secondary High School, St. Lawrence High School, Little Flower High School, St. Carmel High School, and Bharat English High School.
The children were participating in the ninth annual inter-school Integration Programme at Sri Ma Snehadeep School for Mentally and Physically challenged and Visually and Hearing impaired.
There were many highlights of the programme that deserve a mention. The special children had crafted their own rakhis, which they sold to the guests (children). They also welcomed them in the traditional style with haldi, kum kum and flowers.
Later they sang Rakshabandhan songs. The special girls tied rakhis to MLC Sanjay Kelkar, who was the chief guest and Sri Balagopal, director of the Sri Ma Group of Institutions among others.
The most touching moment of the event was when girls from the special school tied rakhis to boys from regular schools and girls from regular schools tied rakhis to boys from the special school. The entire process of tying the rakhis was carried out by following the time-honoured ritual complete with kum kum, haldi, sweetmeat and Akshata (rice smeared with turmeric). Later, special children made friends with regular school children and interacted with them.
When it was turn of adults to speak, Chief Guest Kelkar appeared impressed with the special children. He said, "I like the term ‘special children’. These children are really special and, though challenged to varying degrees, are in no way to be undermined, for they have the abilities to perform and manifest their skills in various spheres of life."
Principal of Sri Ma Snehadeep, Manju Tejwani said, "I am so happy to see that you have made this function successful by attending it in such huge numbers (schools and students) despite the rains. You represent the society and it is for you to carry the message back that special children, if encouraged, can develop their skills very well. They don’t need sympathy; they only require your loving look. At least give them a pat or a smile when you pass by them. Many people don’t even look at them though they live next door. Remember, special children too have a right to respectful living."
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Love is our highest word and the synonym of God." In a way, the children showed us a glimpse of God.