Dabar 29th October Kali Puja

Dabar 29th October Kali Puja

Maa Kali is the goddess who is the symbol of power (Sakti). Kali Puja honours her and this day is celebrated all over India.

This festival is also know as Diwali or the Festival of Light. For this occasion we all try to decorate our houses with colorful lights and candles. The symbolic meaning of this day is that we are lighting up our hearts with the good and removing the bad, which brings darkness to our hearts.

In Purulia, Bankura and Midnapur Districts the Kudmi people celebrate this festival as Bandna Festival. This festival honours our domestic animals, especially the cow, bull and buffalo. The bull is important to our cultivation, the cows provide us with milk and the buffalo are a beast of burden. So we show them our gratitude on this day. We clean the cattle with mud and cow dung and paint traditional drawings on the ground. After that we clean all the animals, washing their feet with oil and putting a crown made out of paddy on their heads.

This festival lasts six day. On the last day we play a game with the bulls called “Garu Khuta”. There is a myth which lies behind this festival. The Lord Shiva is also called Pashupati, which means King of all animals. At a particular point in time he came to earth in order to find out whether animals were being treated well. For this reason we give special treatment to all our domestic animals, adorning the cattle and our houses for the occasion.

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In the period between these Puja, the Bengali people also celebrate Bhai Fota, which honours the special relationship that exists between between sisters and brothers. On this occasion a sister will wish long life to her brothers and her brothers in turn will promise to take care of her.

Our school started again last Monday. At last! This time, which is full of holidays and festivals, starts every year at the beginning of the month of October and will still go on until the middle of November. Because of this life for all of us has lost its normal rhythm. It will take a while to get back into the flow.

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Dabar News 13th October

 Durga Puja

Over the last week we have been celebrating Durga Puja. This is the biggest festival of the year and celebrated all over India. All the schools, including our own, are closed and so are most businesses, colleges, banks and government offices.

Our first task at Prabhatalloi was to give new clothes to our school children. The girls get dresses and the boys get shirts. They were very happy to get their new clothes.

Some of us also took the opportunity to visit the 700 year old palace of Kashipur, the last King of Rahr before Independence. It is only open to visitors during the days of Durga Puja.

In the days leading up to Durga Puja towns all over India put up decorations with colourful lights and a variety of Pandals. Then, for four evenings the streets are crowded with people coming to celebrate and admire the creations.

You may remember that our Guest House has a pillar of brick in the centre of the room which a man sculpted into the shape of a tree. We were pleased to learn this same sculptor won first prize for the sculptures he made at a Pandal in Purulia Town. These shapes and figures are carved out of paddy dust.

So what is the story behind Durga Puja? We would like to tell our overseas friends this story. Durga is a female goddess. In our spiritual books she appears as many different images. She is most often worshiped as the symbol of Sakti, meaning power. The story of her creation is that Mahisasur, the King of Evil and Darkness, decided to begin a long meditation in order to please the god Brahma, who is known as the creator of the world. As a reward for his devotion and the sincerity of his meditation Brahma granted him a blessing that no man would ever kill him in battle. It seemed that he would be immortal and because of this blessing Mahisasur became very powerful.

He conquered heaven and earth. Evil defeated Good and Darkness began to spread over the whole world. To save world, the other gods gathered together and combined their powers to create a beautiful and strong woman called Durga. They had realized that only a woman could now defeat Mahisasur in battle. Each god armed the new goddess a different weapon. With her strength and weapons Durga confronted Mahisasur, overpowered him and slew him. Darkness was thus defeated and the world was saved.

 

 

 

 

Dabar News 1st October

Past, Present and Future with Prabhatalloi Foundation

In this posting we would like to pay tribute to our partners and well wishers. Four years ago Prabhatalloi Foundation started this journey thanks to the inspiration and helping hands of Tinku, who lives here in Dabar, and Shivanii, who is from Australia. We have experienced many good moments during this time, although of course we accept there will always be difficulties or bad news from time to time. But we have achieved a great deal and this is due to the support, blessings and good wishes of the many people who have traveled this journey with us.

Sometime it’s hard to bring back memories but fortunately we have kept many images which help us to remember. So we give thanks to our well wishers with a photographic history of where we have been, then and now, and after that something of our hopes and plans for the future

Building the Physical Infrastructure

Constructing the School Buildings, the Office & Medical Centre

Today

The Land at the Beginning

Blessing the Land

Planting Trees and Vegetables

At the  beginning

Today

The Pond and Drinking Water Provision

The Storm Damage and Reconstruction

The Classrooms at the Beginning

Today

 

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The Apex Library

At the  beginning

Today

The Computer Training Campaign

At the Beginning

Today

The Guest House

Some Special Moments
The Children in the Hostel growing up

At the  beginning

Today


The Picnic at the River

Some other moments

 

Self Help Group

Medical Centre

At the  beginning

Today

Tailoring Class

At the  beginning

Today

Leprosy Village

Snake Village

The Future

From the beginning we have been trying to make the Foundation more and more self sufficient. We have several projects which do generate income, including the Prosthetics shop, Tailoring and Banking/Micro Finance. But these projects do not produce sufficient income to create a surplus.  And furthermore, any extra money earned after paying for raw materials is distributed in the form of workers payments, to pay for utilities and as rent for the office and shop. In any event the main purpose of these projects is one of social welfare. So we cannot and should not expect to earn substantial income from them. However, we are very pleased that they almost pay their way at present.

We have started to take on outsourcing work from other NGOs, local companies and individuals.  Because the aim of this work is primarily to earn funds for the Foundation, we will be taking a business approach to costing and pricing. Shanta, Chaina, Madhab and Mitu have finished training in Tally, which is the most widely used bookkeeping software in India. Starting next month, we will use this package for our own accounts. We will also start our first fee earning jobs for local organisations. There is substantial demand for people with skill in this field and we are very optimistic of continuing to find more fee paying customers and earning good income.

Our Chhau dance teachers are now also training boys at a new local boarding school, which gives them extra income, and the new young Chhau dancers are enjoying the classes and improving very quickly. And after four years, the boys training at our own Chhau Dance class have progressed very well and have now started to perform for the public. Their first performances have been very well received. To progress in the short term, however, we do need to find funds to buy their costumes. props and masks. In fact we already had to turn down two engagements to perform because we have not yet found the money for this. But Chhau Dance is very popular and there are regular opportunities to perform. We expect this to be a good income earner for the artists, the boys and Prabhatalloi Foundation.

Finally, as to the Computer Training Campaign, the classes are still well attended after the first two months. We now plan to offer some additional specialist training in bookkeeping software, word processing, excel and other packages depending on where the interests each individual student lie. There looks to be work and jobs available locally with companies here in Purulia  to the young people once they have completed this first six month session. When this happens it will be a day for celebration here, a big step forward, and we hope you too will be very proud.