It was a busy day for Anusha, Appeksha K., Anjali and Poorvika on Friday. The class 7 students were at the school at 8 a.m. Having helped others to tie the ‘toorana’ (garland of mango leaves), the girls wearing new clothes were waiting to welcome 10 new students by sprinkling scented water and offering a flower to each one of them.

“We are exited to be part of the group to welcome the new kids. My brother was among those who welcomed us three years ago. We love being a part of this function,” said Poorvika, and rushed off to offer roses to parents and others who had come to the school for the annual school reopening event.

The school reopening got a festive touch at the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary School in Keddalike at Kalavamooduru in Bantwal.

“It’s an effort to develop a sense of belongingness for the community in which our school is located. We involve people in the same way as it is done during festival,” said Headmaster K. Ramesh Nayak.

All the 133 students, including the new students, were taken to an anganwadi, about 200 meters away, from where eight of the 10 new students had studied.

These new students were garlanded. These students along with their parents and other students walked down towards the school. The march was led by dance by five students wearing lion, tiger and bear masks. They were followed by students playing the band. Villagers, too, joined the march, carrying gunny bags of jaggery, rice and vegetables meant to prepare the food for the day.

Much like other village fairs, there was a corner where a symbolic wrestling match was played by pairs of students. In fact, the festival began on a traditional note when a boy lifted the grinding stone.

The Headmaster then offered each of the new student a plateful of fruits.

Students of class 1 students were made to sit on the laps of their mothers, who held their hand to write Kannada alphabets on a plate filled with rice. Then all the students were given new pair of uniforms stitched out of funds provided by donors.

Not all new students were comfortable with such a reception that went on for nearly two hours. One class 1 student started crying just as the function came to close. He ran towards his mother and found comfort sitting next to her.