In West Bengal we are very lucky because we celebrate two festivals of light - first Kali Puja (dedicated to the goddess of Kolkata, Kali) and on the following night, Diwali (Hindu New Year).
On both nights pradeep (shallow clay vessels with oil) and candles are placed all around the house. The short videos and photos below show preparations for lighting up the house on Kali Puja.
Preparing the pradeep
Bablu and Ashok
On the roof
If you follow shuktara you know that Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the year in Kolkata. All over the city elaborate handmade pandals are created to house clay statues of the goddess Durga and her family who come down once a year from their heavenly abode for a five day holiday.
This year the young people of shuktara visited the pandals on the 1st day of Pujas which was Shashti and 3rd day which was Ashtami. Everyone dressed up in their new clothes, piled in the cars and went pandal-hopping.
(thank you Raegan Hodge for all the fabulous photos!)
Belinda Carlisle has been a longtime supporter of shuktara and she is a frequent visitor to both homes in Kolkata. While in Atlanta she kindly gave some of her time to Yep! Films International and talked about her experiences with shuktara.
To help support the new shuktara documentary click here:
In October Phoebe Brown and the film crew from Atlanta will be headed back to Kolkata to continue shooting the new documentary. From Phoebe's GoFundMe page:
"As I've been working on this edit - I had the chance to pull up some great field photos and was reminded again (as if I needed reminding!) how special everyone at shuktara is. I want to give a special shout out to Pappu - whose spirit just shines in these images. Not only is he just a genuinely wonderful human being, but he puts up with our 1 million questions, translates both Bengali and sign language, helps us lug gear, gets us places we need to go....all while making sure the day to day of running shuktara is smooth. I hate that we have to work you overtime when we visit but I can't wait to do it again!"
Pappu is an extraordinary and inspiring person - his deep commitment to shuktara is obvious in these photos. To see the latest news about the documentary or to help support this amazing film please click here:
All of us at shuktara are devastated by the loss of Rabia who died so suddenly on Monday.
Rabia was one of the first students in a small group that Bryan and Alison taught typing and computer skills to in 1999. Those small classes would become known as Uddami and they moved to Anwar Shah Road. Her skills in leadership developed and her role became pivotal in the success of the students that she herself started teaching.
Those early classes were held in a room adjacent to the original shuktara boys house where Rabia struck up such a wonderful loving friendship with Sunil and later with Ashok - (both pictured here).
Coming as often as she could to the celebrations we hold at our homes, she was a face known and loved by all the staff as well as the whole shuktara family with whom she was so gentle with.
Rabia was instrumental in helping out with computer classes for the Deaf community here in Kolkata which also included some of our young people.
We are all heartbroken at losing her.
We will miss her immeasurably.
And our annual Saraswati Puja will never be the same again.
Our "19 years of shuktara" celebration was so much fun that we wanted to show you just a few more photos.
As you can see we went all out on decorating - the shuktara roof was filled with scented white jasmine and brightly coloured jamdani saris but the pièce de résistance was definitely THE JASMINE THRONE!
Emily (our Rose Queen) and her mum Rachel are finishing up their trip to Kolkata and we are so happy they were able to join in our Founder's Day activities.
Today there are two homes in Behala, owned by shuktara, where 23 young people live. Ages range from teenagers to young men in their 30s. Coming from institutions or lonely lives without family, shuktara provides everything needed for a healthy, happy and perhaps most important, safe life.
Join with all of us in celebrating 19 years of shuktara - founder David Earp, Pappu (chairman of shuktara in India, guardian, advocate and friend), carers and maashis, and of course all of the young people who have a home for life filled with love and laughter. Thank you for your support, all of this is possible because of you!