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...
Rajesh very proudly showed us a drawing he did in school of a house, a tree and a bird in sky with a cloud. This is what is expected of him in school. Everyone is required to draw the exact same thing, over and over. There's very little creativity involved.
Raja, who has sold many of his paintings in both privately and in galleries, told Rajesh in sign language to try drawing a face or something a bit more abstract. This is what he brought us.
Read more about Rajesh...
According to Wikipedia:
"Holi (होली) is a colourful and happy Hindu holiday celebrated primarily in India on the last full moon of the lunar month of Phalguna at the end of the winter season. It falls in either late February or early March. It is also known as the Festival of Colours."
At shuktara Holi has a long history - every year everyone at shuktara throws coloured powder and liquid colour in bright, vibrant hues at each other, the staff and friends who come by. For days afterward the colour is still visible on faces, hands, and clothes as it slowly fades. Holi is a wonderful holiday, one that everyone participates in and completely enjoys.
Rajesh came to shuktara in 2006 after he lost his parents at Howrah Station.
You can read his story here: