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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Down With Darkness, Up With Light

Otherwise known as "The Lantern Song", Down with Darkness has been ringing in our house for the last couple of weeks thanks to a school tradition for the kindergartners around this time every year in Ana's school.

Kindergartners make and decorate their own paper lanterns and do the Lantern Walk: hold a lit candle in the paper lantern, in the dark auditorium full of doting family and friends, and walk a full circle singing this song with such spirit that makes me hold my breath and wipe away the tears every time I watch it.

And this time, I had a huge big lump in my throat as Ana walked around with her lantern singing this beautiful song.

Winter Solstice and some sort of mid-winter celebration has been a tradition for many cultures around the world for centuries. Many schools adopt this Lantern Walk tradition, including Waldorf. There are possibly numerous undertones and religious connotations to these lyrics that make many people uncomfortable.

I neither support nor dismiss these mystic associations, nor endorse the anthroposophical philosophy in the context of this particular song, as it doesn't matter to my children at this point. The words, taken literally, without any hidden agenda, can be beautiful - especially "Each of us is one small light, But together we shine bright".

Having chanted this Sanskrit verse practically all my life, knowing the meaning and interpretation, I was wondering how to teach something like this to Ana without overwhelming her:kids craft paper lantern
Asato ma Sad gamaya
Tamaso ma Jyotir gamaya
Mrityor ma Amritam gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

Meaning of the phrases:
Asato-from unreal; ma-me;
Sad-to the real; gamaya-lead;
Tamaso-from darkness (of ignorance); ma-me;
Jyotir-to light; gamaya-lead;
Mrtyoh-from death; ma-me;
Amrtam-immortality; gamaya-lead;

Overall meaning:
Lead me (by giving knowledge) from the unreal to the real;
from darkness (of ignorance) to the light (of knowledge);
from death (sense of limitation) to immortality (limitless
liberation). -- India Divine

While entirely different in context, Ana seems to have her own simple interpretation of this song, singing joyously, just taking the words at face-value:

Down with Darkness (youtube video) by Emanuel Amiran
Down with darkness, up with light,
Up with sunshine, down with night.
Each of us is one small light,
But together we shine bright.
Go away, darkest, blackest night,
Go away, give way to light!

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At 3:03 PM, Blogger Kay said...

Beautiful!!! will look for the song so I can let Meera listen to it and enjoy it.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Kay, the song keeps ringing in my head and we've sort of adopted the tune fitting it with our own words at times - let me know if M likes it!


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