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You've Got to be Carefully Taught

Hari Saraswati: A Day to Honor Books and Scholarship in Bali.

(10/2/2010) On Saturday, September 25, 2010, students at schools across Bali celebrated Saraswati day - the day set aside once every six months by the Balinese to honor God as the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

At schools across the island, school children reported to their classrooms at 7 a.m. wearing traditional Balinese costumes. They also brought offerings for placement at their schools' temples and libraries.

On a day dedicated to learning, but ironically during which reading is prohibited, the students gather at temples to ask God's guidance to make them good students.

Quoted in Kompas, a fifth grade primary student, Ni Komang Windani said: "Today is Saraswati day a day for honoring the bestowing of knowledge. I hope I can become smart and earn a good ranking in school."

After completing their prayers at their school compound the student vie for holy waters blessed by a priest to bring home and sprinkle over the school books. The children share the conviction that by blessing their books with holy water they will obtain understanding and be more motivated in their studies.

On Saraswati days all Balinese Hindu will make offerings at temples near their homes. Public offices and schools enjoy a day-long holiday on this day set aside to honor scholarship.