Over the years most of our young people have attended REACH school. Pappu took Aakash to REACH for his assessment and as you can see from the photo below in the car he could hardly contain his excitement. He completely won them over not only with his ability to put vegetable pieces in the right place but also with his winning smile.
Aakash starts school next week - for the first time ever! We couldn't be more proud of him.
To read more about Aakash please click here.
Although the shuktara girls home is called Lula Bari we've never had a name for the boys home - until now. We think the very best way to honour Anna's memory is to name the boys home after him.
First we had our expert sign maker draw up a design. The photos above show the design and it's creation and installation.
The boys home will always be known as Anna Bari.
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
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:
Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that celebrates the bond between brother and sister. Traditionally sisters tie a "rakhi" (thread or ornamental bracelet) around the right wrist of their brothers.
Every year a few women associated with shuktara go to the boys' home and tie rakhis on all of the boys and young men - as you can see they are absolutely delighted to participate in this celebration of the bond between siblings.
According to Wikipedia this "transformed tradition" also happens outside the shuktara homes:
"Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions."
Independence Day is usually celebrating around India by raising the flag and tossing marigold petals. Shuktara is no exception and holds their annual Independence Day celebration on the roof of the boys' home.
Sunil loves all celebrations but this one is especially loved because he absolutely adores the Indian flag. Most of our photos over the years show Sunil saluting the flag he loves.
Happy Independence Day from everyone at shuktara!
(all photos by Raju Das)
Sunil is a fan of all festivals in India but Rath Yatra* is one of his favorites. Every year he celebrates with a miniature version of the three huge chariots used in the main celebration in Puri (on the Bay of Bengal south of Kolkata).
This festival is also celebrated in Kolkata and for a week you will see pop-up stands selling small replicas of the chariots used to carry Lord Jagannath and his entourage. Pulling the chariot is considered an auspicious deed - for all the years that Sunil has pulled his chariot we expect he has accumulated a lot of good karma.