Olympic games in India

By Jyotsna Patnaik, July 2013

The Olympic games are one of the most important events in class 5 in Waldorf schools, anticipated everywhere with great excitement. In India, too, they stand at the centre of this class.

Olympic games in India. Class 5

Rudolf Steiner drew a parallel between the state of soul of the class 5 pupil and the ancient Greeks. During this period, grace, beauty and equilibrium predominate in the world view and experience of the child. The Indian Olympic tradition started in 2005. The Tridha school in Mumbai invited the only other Waldorf school in India at the time, the Sloka school. The Tridha school organised the contests: the hundred metres, throwing the javelin, throwing the discus, long jump and hurdling. The Olympic games were held in the school grounds and 50 children participated. For a whole day Zeus and Hera watched the children from Mount Olympus and at the end wreaths and medals were distributed for grace and victories. The tradition still exists to the present day, the only difference being that seven schools participated in 2013 and the Sloka school took over the organisation.

Children from other places were put up in the der Sloka school. The now 142 children gathered in the grounds and the different teams were called up. They represented Sparta, Athens, Ithaca and Crete. Zeus and Hera stood on Mount Olympus and looked benevolently on the four cities whose delegations made their way towards them in a procession of priests, spear carriers and soldiers. The Olympians positioned themselves before the gods, praised Zeus and performed hymns of praise. Thereupon he declared the games open. The citizens gathered around praised the glorious god of light, Apollo, and brought stones, water and oranges as offerings. Then the Olympic flame was lit. The judges swore their oaths and the festival got underway amid the frenetic cheering of the spectators.

It started with the hurdles for the four cities, followed by two rounds of throwing the javelin and discus and the long jump. Everyone then gathered for a meal before moving on to the last round of the contest. In conclusion, all the contestants from the cities gathered for a parade and the laurel wreaths were distributed in the presence of the gods. Speed and physical control were important, but even more important were grace and sportsmanship. The victors received laurel wreaths and all participating children were given medals as a memento. Once again hymns of praise to Zeus were sung and he declared the games closed. Seven schools participated in the contest: Diksha, Abhaya, Tridha, Prerna, Sandeepani, the Bangalore Steiner School and Sloka. Sandeepani is a school for children with special needs. That evening the “combatants” rested in order to visit Hyderabad, the host city this year, with renewed strength the next day.

About the author: Jyotsna Patnaik is a class teacher at the Hyderabad Wal­dorf School, where she has taught since 1998. She is also involved in teacher training at the Rudolf Steiner Training College in Hyderabad.

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