The reason we all enjoy Fall in Arizona is that the nip in the air is coupled with a warm star that never fails to smile at us each day! Thanksgiving Wednesday at Khalsa was all in all a perfect moment with multiple blessings. This year particularly, I was humbled to see our former student Xiuhtokani Enrique, taller than me now, grace us with his participation at the Earth Blessing. Members of his native Huehuecoyotl community, many of whom are either former students or their parents, joined us to give thanks through their indigenous cultural Earth blessing.

Thanksgiving is a special tradition at Khalsa. There are no other schools in Phoenix that I know of that make the cosmic interconnectedness an important experience during Thanksgiving. This is essential to show our students how we belong to one another, are a vital part of the entire Universe, and so thankful for this human journey.

At both campuses the Thanksgiving events started with a blessing ceremony led by Tupac Enrique Jr. and his indigenous community members. Later, our Primary classes share a special feast comprising of student prepared soups, breads, and desserts along with other vegetarian potluck items brought by their families. The older students have a special day of Lower Elementary arts and crafts and Upper Elementary class feasts.

During the indigenous community Earth blessing, former parents, Tupac Enrique Jr., Maria Enrique, Corina Enrique and Gina Reyes were joined by former students Ahuitzilin Enrique, Mayanelli Reyes, and Xiuhtokani Enrique. The entire campus came together in one large circle on the soccer field surrounding the performers. Tupac Jr. shared the wisdom of stories and traditions of the Indigenous peoples.  All the students and staff joined in the traditional dances to the sound of native drum.  The ceremony began and ended with a moving conch prayer in each direction, up to the sky and down to the earth.  For many years now we have looked forward to this yearly experience of the native traditions and thanksgiving. The school feels truly blessed by the opportunity to view and experience life from varied perspectives. As the next generation prepares to become part of society, we hope that respect for self, others, and the environment will be the beacon that guides their decisions.

The Thanksgiving blessing hosts later joined the Primary children, teachers and parents for another moving ceremony of thanksgiving, dance and music before the school’s family feast at the Coronado campus.  At Primary, one big circle surrounded Tupac on the soccer field as he started and ended again with a conch ceremony and filled the backyard with dance and ceremonial blessings. The message of harmonious and respectful existence with the Earth and its inhabitants is critical for our future generations in developing a sense of stewardship towards life.  Every year, this traditional blessing truly rejuvenates our connection to the earth and its natural resources.

After the ceremony at Primary, parents join together with their children for an annual potluck feast.  Students worked hard all week preparing for their parents’ visit: from preparing food, including the famous soups, to making Thanksgiving invitation cards and flower arrangements at all the tables. Thank you to all the parents who joined us with food for a community meal, where we could truly appreciate the close-knit community of Khalsa students, parents, and staff. The variety of food, from various cultures, certainly whets the appetite for more! At elementary, the Lower Elementary classrooms were full of busy students doing fun fall arts and crafts.  The Upper Elementary students shared food they each had prepared at home during a big classroom feast after they shared thanks for what they had. As our students headed home for another day of Thanksgiving, we at Khalsa were filled with many experiences that we will reminisce long past our days in school.