Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

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.

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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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Ugadi celebrations

Traditional Ugadi Pachadi

Traditional Ugadi Pachadi

Yugādi or Ugadi is the New Year’s Day for Telugu people. The name Yugadi or Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words *yuga* (age) and *adi* (beginning): “the beginning of a new age”.

Rollakal School celebrated UGADI FESTIVAL on 29th March. They organized activities around the ‘Balanandam’ program, during which they discussed the meaning of the festival, why it is celebrated and its relevance. Such discussions on traditional ceremonies and ritual practices deepens students’ understanding of the history and culture of the region they live in, not just from the perspective of tradition, but also the legacy and it’s contemporary meaning.
The children & teachers were treated with Ugadi Pachadi, which combines the flavours of bitter, sweet, sour and spicy, as a corollary to appreciate that life brings with it varied experiences that must be accepted. It was a day of fun and reflection in the school.

Honouring Swami Vivekanada

College  Principal, Sarpanch and staff flagging off the Vivekanda Rath Yatra

College Principal, Sarpanch and staff flagging off the Vivekanda Rath Yatra

Colorful processions and cultural events marked Swamy Vivekananda’s 150th anniversary celebrations held at the Junior College campus, Kalleda. The college principal and village sarpancy flagged off the Rath Yatra from Kalleda to Pravathagiri, accompanied by students and teachers. Monks, Swamy Archananda and Sir Atma Chaitanya of Ramakrisha Mutt gave an inspirational speech and explained the teaching of Swamy Vivekanada on education and leading a fulfilling life.  Along with the monks, nearly 30 volunteers were facilitated in the college hostel.

A Green Future

RoS OCT - GREEN RALLY

Students of Rollakal School have been conducting Environmental Awareness rallies in their village and surrounds as part of RDF’s Social Awareness Program. This program encourages students to engage deeply with their communities on social issues which impact their lives and their shared future. Recently, students conducted a ‘Green Ganesha’ program through which they showed villagers how to create environment friendly clay idols. Teachers and students spoke to the villagers that it is the responsibility of each person to do their bit to preserve the environment, so that a healthy eco system is maintained and provide a green future for the next generation. The school was very happy when a youth club put up a clay statue and felt their efforts have been successful.