Jewellrey gifts from friends in London arrived just in time for the beginning of the Puja season here in Kolkata. This season is similar to Christmas - everyone looks forward to getting new clothes and gifts.
As you can see the recipients of these wonderful gifts were thrilled to receive them.
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."
Holi is an Indian spring festival also known as the "festival of colours". As Wikipedia says: "It signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh."
As you can see from the photos, this is a favorite festival at shuktara, celebrated by everyone.
Happy Holi from all of us at shuktara!
We have been very lucky at shuktara to have met Sanjib Shaw. For the last few years he has been a generous and committed supporter of our homes and this weekend he got married to Nandini.
Over the three days of wedding celebrations all of the shuktara girls, boys and young people have been invited and involved. Yesterday evening (26th February) everyone at shuktara attended the wedding reception.
We thank Sanjib for all his support and wish him and Nandini much love and happiness together.
Through Shrewsbury Morris Dancers on Twitter, shuktara has been introduced to a lot of people in the town of Shrewsbury (UK) who now support and follow us.
Simon Trifunovic from St Locks sent this Tee Shirt for Rajesh (with his name printed on the back!) - all the way from Shrewsbury Town FC! Thank you Simon.
Durga Puja is one of the most famous and important festivals in West Bengal. This ten-day Hindu festival celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.
This is a time for everyone, no matter what religion, to dress up in new clothes and go out with family and friends to enjoy the celebration. The young people at shuktara eagerly await this holiday. They love to go out visiting the magnificent pandals that house the Durga sculptures, complete with her lion mount and her ten arms wielding ten weapons.
The boys and girls go out together in two big vehicles over two days. The older boys go out again later on both those nights. This means that Sunil, who absolutely loves the Pujas, gets to go out four times!
We obviously prefer to give you good news and happy stories but the reality is when you are caring for a large number of young people living together accidents do occasionally happen.
About a week ago Rajesh damaged one of his fingers by slamming it in the kitchen door. He spent the night at hospital where they bandaged his finger.
A few days after his overnight stay he was taken back to the hospital for the dressing to be removed. The medical staff decided to keep him there for a few days so that his finger could be operated on. Clearly his finger needed slightly more attention than we originally thought.
Rajesh came home from hospital August 3rd - still bandaged and he says in a little pain - but home!
Read more about Rajesh...