At shuktara we have enough. We don’t have an abundance of produce, with all our local shops and suppliers closed it is hard to get a lot of what we are used to, but we have enough.
What we have, we have decided to share over the next two days with people in our locality who have nothing. These are daily wage earners, pavement dwellers and families we have been told about who are struggling.
Each bag contains 2kg rice, 1kg potato, 1kg onion, 500gm pulse and 100gm of soya bean.
Our hope is that this will help them a little over the next few days.
Everyone knows that Holi is the festival of colours, and probably the most fun you can have in India. The boys of shuktara and their friends always meet at Anna Bari to throw paint powder at each other and put it on each others faces. We all laugh – a lot. This festival is a wonderful beginning to spring and a welcome break from work and studies.
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!
Vishwakarma is considered to be the divine architect and creator of the world. On this day workers ask him to bless their tools (from a simple hammer to a more complex machine like a computer) and give them safe working conditions, success in their work and a better future.
At shuktara this is usually a small celebration however this year Sunil decided that the statue representing Vishwakarma could be bigger. You can see Sunil in the first video below joyfully banging with a pair of scissors during the ceremony to honour Vishwakarma.
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!