After entering school, all students must go to their respective home rooms to have their attendance taken by their classroom (home-room) teacher. Following attendance, each and every student leaves their bags and tiffin (lunch) boxes to gather at the school courtyard. At the courtyard, each class must stand together in rows. Each class must have two rows, one for the girls and another for the boys. They all stand according to their roll number (which is issued at the beginning of the school year). In each class there is a prefect/monitor. Prefects/monitors are responsible for disciplining the class on behalf of the teacher. Amazingly enough, students do listen to them. As the students stand in their respective rows, the ‘prefects/monitors,’ chosen students checks each classmate to ensure they are straight in the row, have their ID badge, correct uniform, and that their nails are clean.
On the stage, there are a select students who either act as the chorus group or play instruments like tabla, congo, harmonium, and synthesizer. Few of the head-charge teachers also stand with/next to principal sir (yes that’s what I call him) on the stage. The school starts the morning assembly at 8:40AM. The morning assembly always starts with a prayer in Sanskrit that sounds so beautiful (See the video below). Thanks to one of the teachers on my staff, in translation it means:
"Oh God! Lead me from the unreal to the real from darkness to light from death to immortality Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, hi!" Shanti means peace.
After the prayer, everybody stays silent for about a minute and them starts to do the meditation noises: ohm, ohm (about 4x). Following this, the students recite the pledge in whether English, Hindi, or Sanskrit,. At my school, the morning assembly is in English Mondays through Wednesdays, Sanskrit on Thursdays, and Hindi on Fridays and Saturdays. After the pledge, select students recite international, regional, and local news, random but interesting facts, another student would say the thought of the day.
Then we celebrate the birthdays of students by singing to him/her. Principal sir also gives the students his blessing, a birthday card, and chocolates. Sometimes principal sir says a few words to the students either about a meeting/conference or their discipline. Finally, the school sings the Indian national anthem. When singing the national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’, all students and staff stand rigid facing forward with their arms at their sides.
Following all of this—the students move to get back to their classrooms to begin their day of school.