At the Habitat Learning Center on 20 April 13






At the Habitat Learning Center 20 April 13

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Aug 15 2012: Kite Flying and programs

Forty + children and adults got together to celebrate I Day on 15 Aug in the Colony Park. Flew Kites and then moved to the Community center for games and eats!

Sujata Suri of Deep Foundation had arranged for the patang, deel, and Laddoos. Sandeep Suri was the photgrapher as usual. His photos can be seen in the Deep Foundation Blog/FB.

Photos will speak .

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Vasant kunj

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Less Known Temples of Kerala – 3: Thirunavaya, Trippadam, Hanuman Kshetram

The three temples  are near one another and can be comfortably covered within two hours.   (between kottakkal & kuttipuram on Mangalore  – Cochin rd ‘ 19 km from kadampuza ).

Ed visited these temples in June 2011.

PS: Roads in Kerala have innumerable turns , bends , forks, and junctions. Of course there are no sign boards where you need them. However people are helpful enough.

Thirunavaya : Nava Mukunda

Vishnu Kshetram on the banks of Bharatha Puza.

It is approximately 19 Km from Kadampuza. On the bank of the river steps have been built and maintained for convienence of pilgrims. Pitru Karma and kria ceremonies are conducted here, and many who are unable to go to Kashi or Gaya come here. You will also see many ladies performing ‘ tarpanam’, an unusual site, as normally it is the men folk who perform these ceremonies.

Navamunkuda Temple, believed to be constructed by Nava yogis on the right bank of Bharathapuzha, is an important Vishnu temple of Kerala. Pitru Tharpanam is a ritual, held here on the day of Amavasi in Karkidaka (July).  Balikarma is offered by people in their wet clothes, after a dip in the river, for the salvation of sins and to appease the manes.

There is a seperate sanctum for Lakshmi. The story goes; when Adi Sankara visited this spot he found that people of the area were arrogant on account of the vast wealth they possessed.  He saw that the reason was living in the vicinity of the idol of Laksmi whose right hand with an open palm facing downwards was below the hip  level. This ensured that any one who prayed to her was showered with wealth, deserving or not. So Adi Sankara prayed to the mother goddess to revert to her normal abhaya hasta, which she did. This ensured that undeserving persons did not get wealth.

Across the Bharatha puza is a temple for Brahma. However there are no boats or bridge to cross over for a darshan of Brahma.

Trippadam ;

Trikanangode ; Siva Ksehtram; Markandeya Moksha Sthalam

Markandeya was destined to live for only 16 years. When he found his parents sad and unhappy on the last day of life on earth he went to Trikanangode , the abode of Paramasivan, for help. He was chased by Yama dhootas and fled towards the shrine. The AAL in front of the temple split and gave way and allowed him to pass.

Markandeya entered the temple premises and in to the sanctum sanctorum and embraced the the Linga and prayed. The Yama dhootas could not enter the area and went to complain to Yama who himself came on the scene and summoned the young lad to come out.  When Markandeya refused Yama who by then had grown angry and frustrated bloated as he was with the power he wielded over all beings, threw the the pasak kayaru at the boy. The noose wrapped around the boy and the the Linga. When Yama pulled the pasam the Siva Linga was displaced and out came Lord Siva himself , angered by the the action of yama who had dared to take away the life of his bhakta.

It is said he covered the distance to Yama in three steps, and slew him with his trisulam. Then he went to the temple pond and washed away the stains . There is a temple at the original site and the three small temples depicting the three steps taken by Siva, near the present  main temple.

The main pujas in this temple are : Japa of Mritunjaya Mantram’, Uma Maheswara Puja ‘& Maha Rudra Yagna

Rama Temple at Althiyoor

(12 Km from Tirur)

It is a temple for Rama but over a period of time Hanuman has gained  pradhanam. There is a separate enclosure for Lakshmana.

Here one will find a strange looking Hanuman idol, with hands folded and head tilted as if listening carefully. The sthala puranam Rama spoke to Hanuman personally and in confidence and gave him some special signs by which he could identify himself to Sita  as the special dhoota of Rama. He related to Hanuman incidents not known even to Lakshmana, who was standing at a distance. Hanuman with folded hands is listening carefully to Rama. The sight of Hanuman with folded hands and attentive demeanour cannot but bring tears in to ones eyes.

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Activities: Photographs

Residents Welfare Association of Sector  A Pocket C, in Vasant Kunj has given space in their office premises since over seven years for running classes for under privileged children. They have also supported group activities and ensured participation of children in all RWA functions, especially functions on  the Republic Day .

A new room in the Community centre has been also allocated for holding the classes of children.

Acrylic Painting

Srijan Foundation is thankful to Col Kain, President of ARWA, Mr MM Agarwal Secretary, , Dr Usha Mukerjee and all members of RWA for their unqualified support.

Photographs of children who participate in these functions have been placed on our website earlier.

Srijan Foundation has been funding many of the children’s activities over the past decade.

Since last one year members of DEEP Foundation have been associated . They have commenced taking additional classes for children once or twice a week, and also preparing children for group activities.

We thank them for their selfless service. Ms Aparna Mathur has been active in teaching the children spoken English and general knowledge. She has also been teaching painting techniques to the kids, acrylic painting on fabric etc; and some of the paintings done by the children are placed below.

Sujata Suri  has been training the children in dance ,and choreographing their dances for presentation on various occasions. Ms Sujata has also arranged for almirahs and books for the children’ library which has been set up in the Room given by RWA. Pictures of the library are also placed below.

Mr Gaurav has been teaching Science, maths and GK. He has also been helping in identifying colleges to which our children passing High School examination can join.

Mr Nareshwar Prasad is continuing to teach the children from his home ,due to the onset of summer.

We are grateful to Mr Subash Dewan & Rahul Dewan for their unstinting support to Srijan activities.

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Life’s Lessons

Mr Watwani sends this

Please read below 5 important lessons one should learn. As far as I am concerend, I am a beginner and in the process of learning more and more with regard to the various aspects of life. I will also be trying to put the lessons learned into practice.

1 – First Important Lesson – Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor

Gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student

And had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the

Cleaning woman several times. She was tall,

Dark-haired and in her 50′s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question

Blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if

The last question would count toward our quiz grade..

Absolutely, ” said the professor. “In your careers,

You will meet many people. All are significant.. They

Deserve your attention and care, even if all you do

Is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson.. I also learned her

Name was Dorothy.

2. – Second Important Lesson – Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American

Woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway

Trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had

Broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally

Unheard of in those conflict-filled 19 60′s. The man

Took her to safety, helped her get assistance and

Put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his

Address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a

Knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a

Giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A

Special note was attached.

It read:

“Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway

The other night. The rain drenched not only my

Clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.

Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying

Husband’s’ bedside just before he passed away… God

Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving



Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 – Third Important Lesson –

Always remember those Who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,

A 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and

Sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in

Front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.

“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and

Studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the

Waitress was growing impatient.

“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied..

The little boy again counted his coins.

“I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put t he bill on

The table and walked away The boy finished the ice

Cream, paid the cashier and left.. When the waitress

Came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the

Table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,

Were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had

To have enough Le ft to leave her a tip.

4 – Fourth Important Lesson. – The obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a

Roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if

Anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the

King’s’ wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by

And simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the

King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did

Anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of

Vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the

Peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the

Stone to the side of the road. After much pushing

And straining, he finally succeeded. After the

Peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed

a purse lying in the road where the boulder had

been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note

from the King indicating that the gold was for the

person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The

peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 – Fifth Important Lesson – Giving When it Counts….

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a

hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who

was suff erin g from a rare & serious disease. Her only

chance of recovery appeared to be a blood

transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had

miraculously survived the same disease and had

developed the antibodies needed to combat the

illness. The doctor explained the situation to her

little brother, and asked the little boy if he would

be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a

deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save

her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed

next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing

the color returning to her cheek.. Then his face

grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a

trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the

doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his

sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Most importantly…..

“Work like you

don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been

hurt and dance like you do when nobody’s watching.”

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Shepherding the shepherds with SMS



Press the menu button, then go to inbox; with the centre key you can scroll up and down. Then you select the message you want to read and open it by clicking the left button,” explains Dada Padu Kachre, a shepherd in Maharashtra’s Phaltan district as he teaches other shepherds to read text messages on his mobile phone.

The message in Marathi says: ‘Take your sheep for vaccination’. Sent by Anthra, a Pune-based organisation that works for the betterment of the pastoral community in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, the messages, sent twice a month, give important tips to ensure sound health of their livestock while they are on the move. Over 170 dhangars — a nomadic tribe — in Maharashtra benefit from the alerts.

“The content in the message is restricted to preventive measures and medication for diseases that commonly afflict sheep and goats. The dhangar community has to deal with common ailments like cold, cough, injuries and fever plaguing their livestock while on the move. Through these messages, we teach them how to make and use simple, herbal medicines to treat their animals,” says Nitya Ghotge, founder-member, Anthra.

The messages, which were first sent in 2006, are composed taking into consideration the season, the epidemics doing the rounds and most importantly, government policies and facilities for vaccination of livestock. “Many, though not all, shepherds have mobile phones. This is what helps us reach out to them. For some reason, many of these people are reluctant to approach the government. Through these messages, we tell them in advance about the vaccinations available for seasonal epidemic,” adds Ghotge.

The Anthra team consists of four veterinary doctors and animal health volunteers from the dhangar community. With an average of 100 sheep per dhangar, the facility directly benefits some 17,000 sheep. “Given the fact that the dhangars live in groups, each dhangar propagates the message to five others. Our data shows that over one lakh sheep and goats across the state are benefited because of the remedies we suggest through the messages,” adds Sachin Hagawane, member, Anthra.

So instead of seeking out mantriks who prescribe long drawn-out rituals for the health of their herds, the shepherds now wait for these messages. Jeevan Dnyaneshwar Kolpe, who travels 60 km every year to reach Aabhepuri village near Panchgani with his 75 sheep, says, “We note down these messages in a diary for future reference. Earlier, for the smallest of illnesses, such as ulcers in the mouth or injuries, we would look for a mantrik, but today we know that a mixture of ghee and turmeric works magic for both these ailments. The farms and the fields we live in have become our resources as nature offers all the medicines.”

Being on the move is not easy. And one of the challenges the shepherds face is charging their mobile phones. Anthra has provided them compact solar chargers-cum-lamps that not only recharge their mobile phone batteries in two hours but double as lanterns. With a number of other activities conducted throughout the year to boost the culture of these tribes, Ghotge says Anthra is a bridge between the government and the pastoral tribes. “We want to work for them, but we don’t want them to become dependent on us. For us, what is really valuable is one dhangar like Kachre who educates others, making the tribe self-dependent,” says Ghotge.

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Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Kheer Bhawani festival



TULMULLA (JAMMU AND KASHMIR): As thousands of migrant Kashmiri Pandits arrived to pay obeisance at the Mata Kheer Bhawani Temple here, there were emotional scenes as the pilgrims were reunited with their Muslim neighbours, prompting Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to call it the real “Kashmiriyat” which needed to be restored.

The local Muslims offered cold drinks and water to the devotees who arrived from different parts of country that they migrated to in 1990.

“We are happy to see them [Kashmiri Pandits] as we had no chance to live with them like our parents or grandparents,” said 21-year-old Khurshid Ahmad, who was among those offering drinks to them. “We are proud of this cultural ethos but unfortunately the link was broken due to militancy,” he said, adding: “Kashmir is incomplete without them.”

This was for the first time that nearly 50,000 devotees flooded the temple at Tulmulla in Ganderbal.

The Pandits met not only their Muslim neighbours but also their co-religionists after a gap of 20 years.

Sushma and Bimla, who were neighbours in South Kashmir’s Tral area, had one such reunion. They now live in different places as migrants.

“I am here after a gap of 19 years. We migrated in 1991,” said Bushan Lal, originally from Anantnag and now settled in Delhi.

“I prayed for the smooth return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland. I hope the Goddess will fulfil my prayer,” he said.

There are many like Mr. Lal who long to return to their homes, but some are sceptical. “I do not think it is possible for all to return,” said Shamboo Nath, adding that it was not possible to settle in clusters and without mingling with Muslims. “It is better to be where we are if we have to live separately here.”

Some blamed the then government for the exodus.

“The government at that time did not play positive role; so did the successive ones. Our plight would not have been so bad,” said another Pandit migrant.

“I was half of my age when I visited this temple last. At this juncture, I feel I am 20. I feel I am reborn.”

The arrival of Mr. Abdullah and his wife Payal added more colour to the occasion. “I am so happy to see you here. This is what is called the real ‘Kashmiriyat,’” the Chief Minister said addressing the devotees inside the temple.

Speaking to journalists later, Mr. Abdullah blamed vested interests for damaging “Kashmiriyat” and appealed to the Pandits to play a positive role in restoring it.

“Some vested interests were always on a mission to damage the ‘Kashmiriyat.’ This created a vacuum which needs to be filled, for which the Kashmiri Pandits need to play a positive role,” he said.

“A multi-pronged strategy is in place to facilitate the smooth return of Pandits settled outside the valley. They left because their security was snatched. They started feeling insecure. Now we are trying to restore the sense of security to the Kashmiri Pandits,” he added.

On the rehabilitation process, Mr. Abdullah said: “We are also thinking about their economic rehabilitation. Recently, 2,000 posts were filled under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan. More posts are being created.”

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There’s a full moon over India and Gandhi lives again…



There has been a lot of discussion in the media about Gandhian methods and their efficacy. There have also been references to Gandhiji’s fads and quirks — especially his ideas about sex and continence.

I was attending a workshop in Kuala Lumpur. It was ostensibly about how to run a business and earn more money. The programme was interspersed with music and short experiential exercises. At one such session, the trainer played the famous American singer John Denver’s song ‘It’s About Time’, which began with the lines “There’s a full moon over India and Gandhi lives again/ Who’s to say you have to lose for someone else to win?”

The inspiration behind this song was Denver’s visit to India in the 1980s to pay respects to his spiritual guru Swami Muktananda as also his chance encounter with the members of the film fraternity who were on board and were going to Delhi to launch the film ‘Gandhi’. As the plane neared Delhi, Denver looked out of the window and saw the full moon in its pristine glory shining over India. The song writer in Denver was overwhelmed that nature conspired to make him empathise with the humanity at large through the prodding of a great soul, Gandhiji.

The powerful words of the song, coupled with Denver’s mellifluous singing, cast a spell on the participants who had gathered from different corners of the world. Joining hands and forming a circle of 500-plus, they sang in unison — “Who’s to say you have to lose for someone else to win?”

Gandhiji taught us this truth in so many ways. He was the master of non-violent communication that led to win-win situations. He was against class war because it had the seeds of violence in it and the potential for hate on the part of those who lose. He suggested that the rich act as trustees of their wealth and see to it that the last man gets a decent life before enjoying what they have in excess. Though a lawyer, he did not support litigation. Rather, he promoted out-of-court amicable settlements. He propagated ‘heart unity’ to solve the communal question.

The communal divide was sought to be closed by understanding each other’s religion better and accommodating one another. The crux of his campaign against untouchability was directed towards the heart of those who practised the evil because even if one is convinced that one is doing the wrong, it takes a long time to emotionally accept that and change one’s behaviour.

Gandhiji ruled out violence because it denigrated the practitioner; it was irreversible and, therefore, not to be practised by fallible human beings; because once practised, its threshold would increase with every successive attempt; also, it overlooked the fact that every human being is capable of love. Besides, violence did not lead to the resolution of conflicts because it always led to a win-lose situation — “For the first is just the last one when you play a deadly game. It is about time we find out it is all of us or none” (Denver).

He tellingly conveys Gandhiji’s thoughts when he croons —“There’s a man who is my brother, I just don’t know his name/ But I know his home and family because we know we feel the same/ And it hurts me when he is hungry and when his children cry/ I too am a father, and the little one is mine.” When Gandhiji felt sad over the London bombings during the Second World War he was echoing these very sentiments. It is ‘about time’ we recognised the truth of Gandhiji’s words and act on them.

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Songs from a classroom. Or is it a thana?


We are working on finding out the contact details of Inspector Surender Kumar, our Good Samaritan, to help raise funds for this wonderful initiative. Please stay tuned on this article, if you would like to help him out.


The lilting rhythms and throaty choruses of the Manganiyar folk music break the morning air at the Ramsar police station in Barmer, 25 km from the border. Here, more than 200 children practise Manganiyar music, a famed but dying folk art, in the police station that for four years has doubled as a music and elementary education school for children in the region.

Saroof Khan, all of 10, has been attending the ‘Apna School’ since 2008. “My father was a Manganiyar musician, but he travelled a lot and had no time to teach me his music. So I never learnt. Now that I have been learning it for two years, I can appreciate my father’s talent and our tradition better,” says Khan.

The Manganiyar community, traditionally from Barmer, Jaisalmer and other parts of western Rajasthan, has used its music to bridge religious and caste barriers in the state. Muslims by birth, the Manganiyars are called upon to compose and sing songs on different occasions—a wedding, a birth in the family or a festival. Their music, which describes the life of the people of their land, has a touch of Sufism. Over the years, their music has gone global with names like Rukma Devi and Talab Khan travelling across the world showcasing their art.

But back here in Barmer, the artisans say though their music was appreciated, it didn’t do much for their lives once the show and the applause wound up.

“Despite our musical talents and the concerts abroad, we never managed to make a decent living. But now, this school in Ramsar is a godsend for all of us,” says Sakhi Khan, Rukma Devi’s son.

The story of the school began four years ago with a police inspector, Surender Kumar, who had an ear for music and experience in community policing. While on deputation with the UN peacekeeping mission to Bosnia, he says he learned about community policing while dealing with Serbians and Albanians. “On my return, I was posted to Ramsar and decided to emulate that model here,” he says.

Kumar began by rounding up a few children from the village and decided to use the police station as a music school, which is now run on donations from Kumar and celebrated dancer-choreographer Mallika Sarabhai.

Manganiyar teachers were never a problem in Ramsar but Kumar wanted the school to offer more than music. “There are several experienced teachers who could teach the children music, but I soon realised that the children had no elementary and academic education,” says Kumar.

And so, the police station-turned music school became a regular school. Kumar then set out to find a teacher. “We got a teacher from Ramsar to teach children the state syllabus. Now, we have four such teachers,” says Kumar, who now heads the Mahila Thana in Jodhpur.

Shakhar Khan, a Manganiyar who is in charge of ‘Apna School’, is one of the educated few in Ramsar. He believes the school has changed Ramsar. “We are a poor community and the government schools were far away and we could not afford to send our children there,” says Khan.

The classes are held for two hours in the morning and two in the evening—lean hours for the policemen. After Apna School set a precedent and the community realised the value of education, more children wanted to join the school. So another, much smaller, Apna School was set up in Ramsar. “But a majority of the students study in the police station. Now we have 310 students, four music teachers and four regular teachers,” says Khan.

However, Sakhi Khan, Rukma Devi’s son, says Apna School’s very popularity will possibly be its undoing. “It began as an elementary and music school for children from poor families. But news has spread and more and more students join every year. We just do not have the funds to handle them all,” says Khan.

So while Kumar and Sarabhai fund four teachers, including Shakhar Khan, they need at least three more. “We have hired another teacher and I forgo my salary to pay him. However, the number of students increases every year and now it is time for the annual exams and the students find it hard to cope with just four teachers,” says Shakhar Khan.

He says he has been looking for donors in Barmer city, but with little success. “We have come so far and we want to continue this, but it is difficult. Kumarji cannot possibly fund everything,” Khan says.


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