Festival of Lights is one of our most beautiful events and a tradition at School of the Nations. This Festival celebrates the diversity of religions and encourages students to learn more about religions, the universal spiritual principles of each, and their values. The Festival is the result of a Project developed during Virtues for Life classes. Students learn about the world’s major religions and rehearse carols during choir classes. The event culminates the efforts and actions taken during the Project.
In 2016, the Festival took place at nightfall on November 17. Angels, flowers and candles were used as decoration, creating a calm and pleasant atmosphere. Recycled and scrap materials as well as a lot of creativity were used in the decoration. This initiative is aligned with our sustainability and eco-friendliness values and shows that we can create beauty from objects and materials that were once considered “waste.”
Students presented nearly the entire program and read prayers. Parents and students dressed in white or light colors to help promote peace. The songs the choir (Grades 3, 4 and 5) and Grade 2 students performed were lovely. The repertoire was especially focused on the values we want to foster. For example, the song “My Little Light” invites every one to play their parts for the common good; “The Essence of God” praises love; “No Words” talks about gratefulness. In English, students sang “I’m Your Angel,” “Never Alone” and “I Gift to You,” praising solidarity, caring for others, and compassion.
The engagement of parents and teachers was also a highlight. The Festival had two vocal groups. Each sang a carefully selected song. It was a huge success! The parents’ choir performed “São Francisco Prayer,” inviting every one to act as instruments of peace, love, forgiveness, faith, unity, truth, joy, understanding, and light. Teachers performed “Happiness,” emphasizing the importance of enjoying the small things in life. Participants and those present said they really appreciated the unity shown by the community, and this is what we want for our School.
Students were significantly engaged in organizing the event and were in charge of all prayers. They did a great job! They read prayers in English and Portuguese with dedication and respect. Prayers were linked to the program and introduced the values conveyed in each song.
The opening ceremony did not go unnoticed, as students entered the room in silence, holding candles, and sat down. Parents and teachers were immediately engaged in the serenity of the atmosphere.
As usual, the highlight of the event was marked by students lighting their candles in the central chandelier, located right across from the audience, in a special tribute to the world’s greatest religions. As some students lit their candles, others sang beautiful songs in the background, reinforcing the unity of all religions as to their essence and values and encouraging respect toward religious differences. It was quite an enchanting atmosphere. The angels hanging from the ceiling and placed on the background panel, the candles and the flowers created an environment conducive to contemplation and reflection.
When the chandelier was lit up, participants prayed in silence for world peace and on behalf of those enduring some kind of suffering. It was really touching!
Once the celebration was over, participants were invited to appreciate the works of students on display—posters, drawings, texts, and sculptures made by students throughout the Project especially for the Festival of Lights. Finally, a traditional reunion took place on the School patio, where the entire community shared a delicious meal as one big family. Laughter and kindness prevailed.