18th August 2014
Hello again to our well wishers and friends. I have a number of things to tell you about in this Post:
*Ceremonies marking India Independence Day
*Our most important festival: Manasha (Snake) Puja
*A Chhou Dance Workshop held at Nabodaya Central School
*Computer Class, Our First Practical Session
India Independence Day
This is an important event in Dabar Village, in Purulia District and all over India. We held our own flag raising ceremony at the school after class ended for the day. Below you can see photos of our event and also a similar one taking place at the Nabodaya Central School, a nearby boarding school for boys and girls.
You may already know that snakes have an important place in the cultural and spiritual life of this area. Manasha Puja honours the Snake Goddess, Ma Manasha. It takes place on 17th August and in fact is Purulia’s most important festival.
Nearly every home observes it by sacrificing a duck in the evening which is meant to be eaten on the following day. Having the meat is an important spiritual ritual which also has a sound basis in medical science. Typically the work of planting the year’s harvest will finish on about 15th August. In the weeks running up to this date almost everybody, both men and women, will be working the fields, often in deep mud. Unfortunately, while they are doing this, a particular type of worm enters their bodies through the instep of the foot and eventually lodges in the stomach. People eat the duck because its meat kills these worms. It also acts as an effective medicine against fever, which is very common now and at other times of the year when weather patterns are changing.
We held our first practical sessions last week. We felt they ran to a high standard. The children very much enjoyed the tasks we assigned to them. They were very excited and pleased finally to be able to start working with computers.
The photographs should show this. Although the classes are directed at young people in Year 10, we also have some adults coming to the Computer Workshop to learn. Also, above and below you can see photos of Shanta giving a demonstration to some young girls after their sewing class last Sunday. In a few years they can enroll in the course too.
In the short term, our next aim is to find some money to install a practical WiFi link. It would be very helpful and important in the later months of the Course. And in the medium term it would make it possible to take up opportunities for computer-based outsourcing work that we could carry out in the village.
Chhou Dance Work at Nabodaya Central School
An important aim of Prabhatalloi is to preserve and promote the local performing arts, such as Chhou Dance, Jawa and Karam, and indigenous languages such as Kudmali which are under threat from otherwise welcome development and mass media.
This includes local dance, song and instrumental music. One particular thing the Foundation did early on was to establish a school to give free lessons in Chhou Dance to boys and young men. This is still running well. There are six artist instructors and they meet every Sunday for training.
After hearing of the classes and seeing some of their occasional performances, the staff at the Nabodaya Central School (named after Jahar Nabodaya Vidyalia), a very highly respected local boarding school for boys and girls, asked our teachers to come and run a workshop for some of their own boys. Forty of their boys are training with them for four hours a day over a fifteen day period. It has been a great success. It is easy to imagine that these boys will wish to continue their training and others will want to join them.
Best wishes to you all and thank you for all your support and encouragement.
Sanjay Kumar Mahato