Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

A Feast of Festivals!

Kalleda School celebrating Lord Krishna’s birthday (Krishnashtami)

India is a country, rich with cultural traditions and festivals. It’s a link to our history and is a wonderful way to keep generations in touch with the best that our history offers.

Festivals such as Ugadi (Telugu New Year), Diwali (Festival of Lights), Raksha Bandhan (celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters), Krishnastami (Lord Krishna’s birth celebration), Boddemma (honouring the feminine divine) etc. are celebrated and cherished in RDF schools.

Girls celebrating Bodemma

By celebrating every festival together, the children learn not just the rituals pertaining to a festival, but also the values embedded in the festivals and their rituals such as respecting elders, behaving with kindness, helping others, sharing what we have etc. We believe understanding the deeper nuances of our festivals help build character and good citizens.

The pictures accompanying this post are from Kalleda School.

A Foundation of Change

(L) Rama Devi & (R) Srikanth, leading a Bonalu procession

The Tech Mahindra Foundation and RDF partnership in the 2 Government schools in Bahadurapally, is creating positive change in the lives of rural children and their families, just like the impact being created in the RDF communities. Therefore, it makes us very happy to see former RDF students come and work in these schools.

Rama Devi, with her PS students

Rama Devi, helping during a Health Camp

Rama Devi is a Primary teacher in MPPS. After finishing her entire schooling in RDF Kalleda School, she went on to do her B.A., inspired by her caring teachers at RDF. Having received the benefits of a high quality teaching-learning environment as a student, Rama Devi puts the same care and dedication into her own teaching practice. Her enthusiasm for sports and cultural activities as a student can be seen even now as a teacher, thus making her one of the most popular teachers in the school!

Srikanth, playing with PS kids

Likewise, Srikanth, joined as a Non Teaching Staff in the school. Highly dependable and friendly, Srikanth manages security, snack time and looks after the organic garden in school. He also assists the PET during inter school trips. Remembering his Kalleda school days, he happily joins the kids for play and fun.

Snack time!

Both of them are enthusiastically engaged in so many aspects of the running of the school, eager to make a difference! We are so glad that both of them have found secure jobs and are contributing to rural children and society in their unique ways! Their families now have ease of mind, knowing that their children are flourishing in their new jobs and a life free from poverty. Life has indeed come full circle for these 2 alumni.

Republic Day Celebrations

MPPS Bahadurapally had a grand celebration on the occasion of India’s 69th Republic Day on 26th January 2018. Students and staff prepared an excellent event, practicing songs, dance and speeches for many days! The Chief Guest was Mr. Mallaiah – the Chairman of the school’s SMC. The programme started with the hoisting of the National Flag by the Village Sarpanch and other members of the village development committee.

Students of Classes 1 – 5 then presented their well thought out and colourful songs and dances which enthralled the audience. Parents and other villagers were present in full attendance to watch the children’s enthusiastic performances. Staff and students gave speeches in both Telugu and English, which made everyone very proud, given that public speaking and presenting in English has been a challenge which is being overcome through various forms of training.

There was also a prize distribution ceremony, in which the Headmaster invited the parents to give away the prizes. The prizes, sponsored by TMF and RDF, comprising of games and sports equipment, stationery and snacks, were given away for student achievements in sports, extracurricular activities and academics. Children were thrilled with their prizes as they can be utilized in their school work.

The day ended with bananas being distributed to everyone and conveying our heartfelt thanks to the support of TMF and RDF staff, as well as the parents and the village community.

Bathukamma Festivities

Nowhere are the cultural and social variations across India evident more than during her glorious festivals. The variegated practices provide a keen eye into the country’s rich history and enduring traditions.

The 10 day celebration leading to Dusshera is celebrated in multiple ways across the country. From the Kolkota Durga Pujo in the West Bengal to the Mysore Dasara in the Karnataka to the Kullu Dusshera in Himachal Pradesh in the North, to Chennai Bommai Kolu to  Navratri Mahotsav in the West, these 10 days signify Indian’s love for festivals, carrying traditions forward and being part of community celebrations. The decorations, songs, dances, food and rituals bring people from various communities together in joy. The unifying thread in the essence of the triumph of good over evil and the worship of the Mother Goddess – Durga, Lakshmi, Chamundeshwari, Kali.

 Telangana’s ode to the ‘devi’, to felicitate the divine feminine is the traditional festival of ‘Bathukamma’. It was celebrated with great revelry at Rollakal School. While everyone is aware of the festival’s cultural and religious significance, the school reiterated the fact how such festivals unite people effortlessly. The boys and girls at the school gathered the marigold and different flowers that are stacked for the Bathukamma. The women and girls of the school and the community sang devotional songs and participated with great enthusiasm. The festival ends with the Bathukamma being placed at the feet of Goddess Saraswathi.

Immersion in New Traditions

Vinayak Chaturthi is a huge festival across the length and breadth of India; celebrated in a multitude of ways by the ardent followers of Lord Ganesha.

In recent years, there has been widespread coverage on the damage done to river systems and other water bodies due to the immersion of POP idols. Sadly, many people continue this ritual despite the sustainable alternative of using clay being easily available. At the same time, we are happy to see many groups using clay idols to venerate Lord Ganesha.

RDF schools have been making clay idols for 10 years, including getting the larger community involved. This year, the students and staff made clay idols together and distribute these idols to villagers. The children, as in previous years, with the strong belief and desire to make sustainable changes, went around surrounding villages to motive villagers to only use clay idols.

It was amazing to see the dexterity with which the kids shaped and moulded the idols and the enthusiasm with which they approached their elders and community to become more aware and conscious citizens, rather than blindly follow rituals. They were able to convert those resistant to the idea of making such a change. Such is the power of belief and conviction for the greater good of society!

On the day of the immersion, the children sang many songs and performed traditional dances on the festive journey to immerse their idols in the local lake and tank. We have seen the positive impact these efforts have brought in the lives of staff and children – right from understanding their role in protecting the environment, to team work and rallying people to a just cause, to using their creative and artistic abilities to fashion beautiful clay idols and seeing the outcome of their positive attitude on the larger community. These real life experiences and skills cannot be learnt in a classroom – they come from engaging and empowering individuals to ‘be the change they want to see in the world’!

A Month of Festivities

A teacher & students preparing the clay Ganesha together

A teacher & students preparing the clay Ganesha together

The final quarter of the year is an exciting time for Indians with the onset of a plethora of religious festivals. Festivals are intrinsically linked with families and friends bonding over rituals and related social activities, sharing meals, gifts and participating in traditional arts and crafts that are a part of such festivals.

The Ganesha being taken for immersion

The Ganesha being taken for immersion

In Kalleda School, the children and teachers have been actively promoting the use of clay idols for several years, in order to minimize pollution in local water bodies. This year too, students and teachers prepared Lord Ganesha idols with clay. The idols were also distributed among the villagers. The Ganesh idol was erected in the central part of the school grounds and after five days of festivities, the clay idol was taken to the local lake to be immersed, with children and villagers joyfully dancing to the beat of the dhols.

A teacher & young girls preparing the Boddemma idol together

A teacher & young girls preparing the Boddemma idol together

Thereafter, the Boddemma festival was celebrated in the school. Bodemma is a festival dedicated to young girls in which they pray to the Goddess Gauri. The teachers and students prepared a clay Boddemma idol, which was then decorated with flowers, turmeric and kumkum. In the evening, there was dance and gaiety as the students were joined by other girls in the village to sing to Goddess Gauri.

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Dancing & singing around the Boddemma idol

In this way, local traditions are preserved and a sense of history and culture are inculcated in the new generation, thus still keeping culture and tradition alive in many parts of the country.

Celebrating Bonalu

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Who doesn’t love the colour, fanfare and the huge family occasions that Indian festivals are? A very enthusiastic group of Class 5 students from Rollakal School decided organize the Bonalu festivities for their community. With a sense of discipline that comes from a sense of purpose, the children bought pots from their local potter. Another group adorned the earthen pots with neem leaves, turmeric and vermillion and lit a diya on top of the pot as they carried them home on their heads, offering ‘bonam’ to the Mother Goddess at the temple. Together with their local community, they celebrated the bliss of a rich harvest and danced the traditional dance with great abandon and gaiety. This was followed by the cooking of the traditional Bonalu meal where rice is cooked with milk and jaggery in the earthen pots and then shared with their families.

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