Like on any vacation, there are so many memorable moments from our time in India that stay in our hearts and minds forever. However, on our most recent trip to India (Challah’s first), there was one moment that was especially profound. We were visiting the southern state of Kerala for a week before heading to my home state of Gujarat. We had included traveling down to Kanyakumari, a coastal town in Tamil Nadu, and the southern most tip of India, where three oceans merge (Indian, Arabian, Bay of Bengal). We heard sunsets and sunrises here were spectacular and were eager to visit the rock where it’s believed that Swami Vivekanand, a remarkable monk who had spoken at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893, had attained enlightenment. While in Kanyakumari, we stayed at the ashram of Swami Vivekananda for whom they have dedicated a monument on the sea. We woke up early the first morning to catch a glimpse of the sunrise. We quickly learned that we were not alone. Not only were the peacocks in the compound up and about, hundreds and hundreds of school children were as well, as they ran past us with a shared sense of urgency. When we reached the wall separating us from the Indian Ocean, we were the only ones there. Then, in moments, rows and rows of children in school uniforms are standing to each side of us, silent, waiting for baited breath, surprisingly for the same thing we had traveled across the world for, a Kanyakumari sunrise.
We all stood there, tourists, children, and teachers watching the sun rise softly and slowly as it does every day. It almost felt as if collectively we were holding our breath. And it was spectacular. We were fortunate to have little cloud coverage that morning and felt the profoundness of this snapshot moment. How similar we are to one another when it comes to appreciating nature! After the performance of the sun, the children diligently walked to an open area, seated in straight rows like members of an army. They closed their eyes in meditation before starting their morning calisthenics and formal instruction. We watched in awe, first at the sunrise and then at the discipline of the children, thirsty for a connection with nature, mindfulness, movement in their bodies, and to learn. We so wish that every day we could take time to see and appreciate the sun rise and that every child in the world could be given these priceless gifts every day of their young lives.