My experience of Constitution Day…

 -SHEIKH KHURSHID ALAM [LLM 2017-19]

Soonafter transacting my lesson plan on ‘Human rights’ with class VII, I was seatedin the staffroom when the headmaster (HM) turned to me and said, “आलमसर, आज संविधान दिवस मनाना है, कुछ सुझाव  दीजिये”. I just asked him how did they celebrate the constitution day the previous year.He replied saying that this was the first time that constitution day was to becelebrated in the school. Though the teachers had received information andguidelines for this celebration in advance, they had not devised any plan forthe same. The HM told me that the guideline is to make the students take pledgeof the preamble of the constitution and a brief history of the constitution isto be discussed with them. I was curious to observe the observance of this dayat the school.

The HM instructed few students to take out the portrait of Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar from the store room and dust it properly. It is to be noted that due to the recent assembly elections, by the order of the election commission, all the portraits of political figures, even that of the PM and CM were removed from the public display, hence the portrait of Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar was kept in the storeroom. Few other students were asked to prepare a garland of flowers and bring coconutand other essentials needed for performing ‘puja’.

Wearranged the assembly platform (stage) with tables and chairs for the teachersand few SMC representatives to sit. Dr.Ambedkar’s portrait was decked up on atable nearby. We, the teachers took our places on the platform. There presentatives of SMC were missing. The secretary joined us just a few minutes before the end of the celebration. The students brought out their sitting matand sat down in front of the stage. And the celebration began.

Oneof the teachers addressed the assembly with the greetings of ‘भारत माता की जय’ and the slogan of ‘संविधान दिवस अमर रहे’. She informed the gathering about the adoption of the Constitution of India and the number of years it took to frame the constitution. Thereafter she invited the HM to say few words onthe occasion. The HM spoke about 10 minutes on the importance of theconstitution. I was called to say something on the life of Dr.Ambedkar. Nobody but two students had heard about Dr. Ambedkar before. I spoke for about 5-7minutes about the zeal of seeking knowledge of Dr.Ambedkar.

The convenor invited the student representatives to perform puja on the stage. They came and led the gathering into singing the ‘saraswativandana’, offered puja before the portrait of Dr. Ambedkar, applied ‘tika’ on the forehead of the portrait and the teachers as well. I refused very politely to apply ‘tika’ on my forehead but accepted the offering of coconut pieces (‘prasad’ for them, fruit for me). The teachers along with HM showed incense to the portrait, bowedbefore it and applied ‘tika’ on the forehead. The HM addressing me said, “सर, आप भी कर लीजिये”. I picked some flowers from the table and kept it in front of the portrait. The session ended with national anthem and national song.

The HM returns to his home through the same path as mine so sometimes I hitchhikeon his bike. Today we returned together from school. On the way we stopped by atea shop, which we do often, and had a splendid cup of tea. In case anybodywants to know – I prefer black/lemon/green tea to milk tea. My HM is 62 yearsold and there is something special about these old people – they are good atreading minds, sometimes. While taking ‘chuski’ of the tea, he said, “आलमसर, स्कूल के हर कार्यक्रम में पूजा होता है। Teacher’s Day पर डॉ. राधाकृष्णन का, गांधीजयंती पे गांधीजी का और वैसे ही अन्य दिवस पर भी। आपको मालूम है की जब जोगी की सरकार थी छत्तीसगढ़ में तब उसने गुरुघासीदास की पूजा को अनिवार्य घोषित कर दिया था!”

He continued saying that though it was not proper to hold Puja in any government institution but it happens. We had some more discussion on the objectives of the constitution as how it envisions a secular society but that seems a distant dream. It being a slightly cool evening, our tea was finished long before we were midway into our conversation. We left the ‘dhaba’ and soon reached our destination. I don’t think there is any point in lamenting the ignorance of people about the constitution of India because it has become a rule. The day, this ignorance will be an exception, will be the day to hold our head high. My feelings find expression in the words of Iqbal – “Rasm-e-azaan rehgayi, rooh-e-bilalinarahi”

Happy Constitution Day.

SHEIKH KHURSHID ALAM,

BEMETARA, CHHATTISGARH.

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