Whenever I talk about this thing in front of people who do not belong to India, they have a hard time grasping this concept. It’s not because it’s something difficult but because people associate this word with other things mostly. Let me explain.
Farewell, in general means bidding goodbye. So, whenever someone says they have a farewell, it seems kind of odd and people think that the person is shifting or dying. However, if you ask any teenager in India what farewell means to them, you’d find a different answer. First off, know that prom and homecoming aren’t a thing in India, at least not mainstream. That’s why a farewell, which is actually a gathering hosted by the school for the kids before their school leaving exams (called Boards) is really crucial.
So, what does a farewell entail? Actually, it is a little bit like prom but much more boring. However, it’s the best thing we have next to prom. In a farewell, the students of grade 12 (who are otherwise on preparatory leave) come to the school all dressed up, the girls wear traditional Indian sarees and the boys generally wear suits (though some sport Indian attire as well). They reach there around the same time as school ends. The students, except for class 11th students and the teachers who teach senior secondary & staff leave as usual. The venue (school auditorium or school lawn mostly) is prepared in advance. The school also hires a photographer for the occasion.
The students or rather, the guests, arrive at school, all decked up, probably for the last time in a long time. A team of students (all students that participate are in class 11) and a couple of teachers welcome them with tilak (ceremonial mark on the forehead) and sweets. After clicking as many photos as they possibly can, the kids settle down in the auditorium. The teachers give a speech, there is a felicitation ceremony, the 11th class students present dance and play performances and there is generally a slideshow that encompasses the previous year as spent by the outgoing batch.
After this is over, the students meet and talk to their favourite teachers and amongst themselves. There is generally a buffet meal arranged for all, though some schools prefer to give pre-packed meals. The kids eat whatever goodies they have and have a good time in general. Some students go to an after party outside school premises but it is unofficial and not all students attend such parties (as they have earned a bad name due to many such parties involving illegal serving of alcohol to underage kids). But to each his own.
So, is it really as boring as I think it is? What kind of traditions do you have at your place?