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.
Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights, celebrated in autumn. This is one of the most popular festivals in India which symbolizes the "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance."
This is a favorite night at the shuktara homes as everyone helps with lighting up the house and setting off fireworks.
This year our celebration was a bit more subdued as we all remembered Anna and lit candles not only for the festival, but also for him.
Diwali firework waterfall
Tamina with a sparkler
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)
All of us at shuktara are devastated by the loss of Rabia who died so suddenly on Monday.
Rabia was one of the first students in a small group that Bryan and Alison taught typing and computer skills to in 1999. Those small classes would become known as Uddami and they moved to Anwar Shah Road. Her skills in leadership developed and her role became pivotal in the success of the students that she herself started teaching.
Those early classes were held in a room adjacent to the original shuktara boys house where Rabia struck up such a wonderful loving friendship with Sunil and later with Ashok - (both pictured here).
Coming as often as she could to the celebrations we hold at our homes, she was a face known and loved by all the staff as well as the whole shuktara family with whom she was so gentle with.
Rabia was instrumental in helping out with computer classes for the Deaf community here in Kolkata which also included some of our young people.
We are all heartbroken at losing her.
We will miss her immeasurably.
And our annual Saraswati Puja will never be the same again.
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.