One thing that all of the volunteer managers, PMs and venturers have in common is that we all wanted to come to India for our expedition to experience the incredible culture that the country has to offer.
This rich culture is an important part of our community phases. Living with the communities, and getting to know the direct beneficiaries of the projects we work on, is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of this phase. Our host country co-ordinator, Theja, will be going over this in more detail when the venturers arrive and talk to them about Indian culture and the importance of cultural awareness.
On Monday night, the volunteer managers were able to experience a snap shot of this part of India when we went into Mysore to see the Palace in all its finery during Dussehra.
Dussehra is the final day of a ten-day festival called Navratri. It celebrates the victory of truth over evil and when the Hindu goddess, Chamundeshwari, killed the demon, Mahishasura. People from all over India come to Mysore to celebrate it and the town literally explodes into a kaleidoscope of colours, with fairy lights hanging from every possible place. It’s truly stunning.
Sarah, Lou, Andy, Anthony and Sian outside Mysore Palace
After visiting the Palace, we went out for dinner and were treated to a traditional Indian dance. And of course, as soon as they asked for volunteers to get involved, Raleigh where straight up there!
Ed and Tim doing some traditional Indian dancing
So after a bit of R and R, it was back to business with some more training and the final preparations ahead of the venturers arriving on Sunday. Our host country venturers arrive a day early, on Saturday, so it’s all hands to the deck to get Fieldbase ship shape for their arrival.
We had a break from training today as we joined in with the tradition blessing ceremony, Pooja, at Fieldbase. This happens once a year and marks the end of summer and the start of the winter. The whole of Fieldbase was cleaned from top to bottom and then decorated with flowers and bindis. The cars, tents, computers...even the toaster, got blessed. After everything had been blessed, the ceremony was closed by smashing a melon filled with red dye.
Theja preparing the blessing
The computers being blessed
Theja blessing Fieldbase
So with the PMs trained up and Fieldbase blessed, all we need now are our venturers!