14 September 2007

Feasts and festivals part 1

I have been shopping in Pune and have bought some blue and amber sari material, some bangles, bindis and some material to make a Pubjab suit. I'm having the Punjab suit made. It comprises baggy pants, a long tunic and a scarf. My sari with blouse is also being made. We'll dress up with all our new clothes and accessories during the closing dinner which will be a Maharastrian feast. Mahrastra is the state I'm in. Idols of Ganesh, some elephant looking god are out for sale as the festival is on soon.

International night
We had an international night where people talked about the places they came from. The Bedfordshire bunch did a real deadpan version of Cinderella. I can't be sure I got the humour! The Devon bunch dressed up as country bumpkins and sang a funny song. They have been telling me all about Devonshire cream teas which come from their town, and about clotted cream. I did some fun Irish dancing and taught the others to do Lao dance.

Doorstep school
I visited a school which is part of an organisation that aims to educate children that would otherwise not be educated. They work alot with the children of contruction workers. Construction workers move around every 3-4 months so their children often don't get the chance to go to school. The might move to an area where they don't speak the language making it even harder for the children to go to school. They work with Mobile Creches also which look after the tiny kids so the bigger kids can go to school.

Dinner with a family
I went to house of family of a local 6-year-old cub Scout for dinner with a couple of others from England. Everone attending the event visited the families of Scouts in area with special housing for employees of the pharmaceutical company. The family took us to a temple which was a replica of one that is in Kashmir. They recreated a 10-metre long cave which had 20cm of water of water in it. Once we waded through the water there was a beautiful shrine at the end. They were so kind to cook us a lovely dinner and show us pictures of special ceremony the boy had.

Manaski Centres ( I think I spelt it wrong)
In India they have a caste system from the Hindu religion. It is technically illegal, but is still practiced and is a human rights issues. The Untouchables, or Dalits are out of this caste system and are only entitled to the really bad jobs in society. We saw a video about the discrimination the Dalits face. Some aren't allowed to use wells and rely on others to fetch their water. Others have to take off their shoes in areas of other villages. Some Dalit children had to clean the toilets and make tea when other children didn't have to. Generally the face discrimination and occasionally violence. There are 250 million Dalits.

This organisation gives Dalits the option of converting to Buddhism to help them overcome the psychological barrier that is one of the factors stopping them from achieving what they can. They have a variety of programs to help the Dalits out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This comment doesn't pertain to your entry at all but merely a general comment letting you know that I enjoy reading your blog very much. I have been following your adventures in Laos since May, when I got back from Laos. Enjoy your adventures and keep blogging about them!