Our friend Debasish dressed up as Santa Claus to deliver gifts to all the boys, girls and young people at Anna Bari and Lula Bari. You can see by the smiles that everyone was happy and absolutely delighted with their presents.
Because Durga Puja was a quiet affair this year and none of the shuktara young people were able to leave their homes, Pappu decided to celebate Jagadhatri Puja at Anna Bari on Monday 23rd November. We held it on the ground floor, at the side of the house, using our garage as a place to keep the Goddess in an open space and accessible for all. This meant that we were able to conduct the puja with different groups of people from our community coming in during the day at different times.
And for the afternoon and evening session the girls came over from Lula Bari.
To see videos of Jagadhatri Puja please click here.
Saraswati Puja came early this year – the date varies according to the cycle of the moon but typically falls in late January or early February. This year the puja was on Wednesday 29th January and is the first puja of the year celebrating the goddess of wisdom and learning, Saraswati.
At shuktara this occasion is marked by a statue of the goddess Saraswati on the roof of Anna Bari, usually surrounded by bright floral decorations. Everyone dresses up in their best clothes and the young people from both homes gather on the roof to talk, eat kedgeree (a creamy savory rice dish) and, as seen in the video to the right, dance.
Everyone loves Sunil and we all love watching Sunil celebrate by dancing. Happy Saraswati Puja!
Last weekend Pappu took the girls from Lula Bari to the seaside resort village of Mandarmani.
This is a good time of the year to visit the beach because the weather is sunny and the monsoon rains have usually finished. Everyone enjoys the beach and the fresh sea air is a welcome change from urban Kolkata.
Sunil went also because no one likes a holiday more than he does.
There was a lot of excitement yesterday evening at Lula Bari.
The girls had just received a bundle of winter clothes from a local supporter and were frantically choosing which outfits to pack for a short two-day trip. Moni was busy in the next room catching up on some last minute homework with Priyanka. A neighbour was celebrating his son’s first birthday by delivering food packets to everyone.
Prity wanted everyone to see this photo of her and Puja (on right). It’s not often we are able to capture Puja because of her stimming, but in this moment, Prity asked us to click quickly!
After the madness of last night this morning Pappu and the girls are happily on their way to Mandarmani for a beach weekend.
For 20 years now we’ve been celebrating Diwali on the roof of shuktara. Diwali is celebrated with fireworks and crackers all across India. In Kolkata Kali Puja signifies the end of the puja season and usually takes place the night after Diwali. This year both festivals were on the same night so everyone set off their fireworks together.
Sunil loves pujas but this is perhaps his very favourite one because it involves extremely loud noises he is able to hear despite being profoundly deaf. Pappu took him to choose the fireworks and the choices were overwhelming – just take a look at this shop selling only fireworks (below).
Last Sunday (27th October) at dusk small clay containers were filled with oil and a wick and placed all around both homes. As darkness fell the lamps were lit and the feeling was absolutely magical.
Then the firework show began with rockets, pinwheels, fountains and sparklers. All over the city colourful lights and sounds continued for most of the night.
Happy Diwali from all of us at shuktara!
Lighting of 14 candles at Anna Bari
Chaturdashi is observed on the night before Kali Puja. Fourteen lamps were lit and placed around the house to remember 14 generations of those who have died.
In the video Sunil is lighting the candles around Anna Bari.
VIP Guests at the Kali Puja Inauguration
On the same evening Pappu took Guria, Prity, Aakash and Bappa to a Kali Puja inauguration where they were VIP guests and Pappu was able to speak to the audience about the work he does at shuktara.