Lesson 42: Prayers on Wings

In Japan, the crane is a symbol of good fortune and hope.

The crane is a large, migratory bird whose wings provide protection. It is said to live for
a thousand years.

In Japanese tradition, giving a thousand origami cranes to a person tells them that they are
loved, remembered and protected.

How and when did the crane become associated with origami, the Japanese art of folding paper?

There is a very interesting story about this.

Sadako Sasaki was a little girl who lived in a city called Hiroshima in Japan. She died of leukaemia,
a form of blood cancer, as a result of exposure to radiation from the atomic bomb that was dropped
on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

“She let out both the pain of our parents and her own suffering with each crane. She hid her suffering
and was very tolerant of the pain. She didn’t want anyone to worry. She didn’t complain to her friends
or to us. If it were me, I wouldn’t have been able to stand the pain, but I’m not Sadako,” said her brother
in an interview.

The scene now shifts from Japan to India.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a leader of India’s independence movement. When India was a
colony of Great Britain, Gandhiji used non-violent methods to protest against British rule. He told
Indians that they should not obey British laws that they thought were wrong. He also said that Indians
should remain peaceful no matter how much they were punished for their actions by the British.

India finally became independent in 1947. It was a great victory for Gandhiji and the other freedom
fighters. However, he was greatly disappointed because India was divided into two countries — India
and Pakistan. Gandhiji believed in harmony and tried to make peace between Hindus and Muslims.
On January 30, 1948, Gandhiji was shot and killed by a fanatical Hindu.

A. Word Meanings
Make sentences with the words given below:

1. Symbol — sign, figure, design, image, badge
2. Good fortune — luck, blessing, happiness
3. Migratory — moving from one place to another
4. Protection — safety, shelter, security
5. Origami — the Japanese art of folding paper to make various objects
6. Exposure — risk, danger
7. Radiation — spread of dangerous chemicals
8. Atomic bomb — a very powerful bomb with great power to cause destruction and death
9. Suffering — feeling mental, emotional, or physical pain
10. Tolerance — acceptance of people who are different from us or those who have different opinions from us
11. Shift — move, travel, transfer
12. Colony — a place ruled by another country
13. Non-violent — peaceful
14. Protest — when people come together to show others that they are against an idea or event
15. Obey — follow the wishes or orders of someone
16. Peaceful — quiet, serene, calm
17. Punish — to make someone suffer for a mistake
18. Harmony — when people live and work well together, without clashing or fighting
19. Fanatical — extreme, stubborn, unthinking enthusiasm, as in having very strong views about religion or politics

B. Discussion Points:
1. What does the crane represent?
2. What did Gandhiji believe in?
3. Can you tell us a little bit about Sadako Sasaki?
4. Do you admire Sadako Sasaki? Why?
5. Can you tell us a little bit about Mahatma Gandhi?
6. What does the word “mahatma” mean?
7. Why was Gandhiji also called Mahatma Gandhi?
8. Can you use two or three adjectives to describe Mahatma Gandhi?
9. Why are we talking about origami cranes and Gandhiji together?
10. Do you think non-violence is important? Why?

C. Prayers
A traditional Japanese prayer

O flock of heavenly cranes
Cover my child with your wings.

“Where there is love, there is life.” Mahatma Gandhi
“Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.” Mahatma Gandhi