13-Jul-2010

VIPASSANA EXPERIENCE

Vipassana Meditation Experience
I would like to share with all of you my experience of Vipassana that I had in the month of June. The reasons why I did it are basically two: The first one is because here in Cambodia Buddhism is the main religion and I always thought that by practicing this technique would come to a better understanding of the Cambodian culture. Secondly, this type of meditation has always attracted me as a path to personal growth and especially after the retreat with Father Raj that encouraged us to master our minds. Once I expressed my desire to the community and they all agreed, so I looked for information through internet, applied and got admitted immediately even they were surprised that a religious nun wanted to do it. The Vipassana Meditation Center is not so far from our place, only it takes 2 hours to reach it. The courses they give there are fully organized following the teaching of S.N Goenka, a very famous and known Burmese teacher who nowadays resides in the North of India.
What I found there was a scientific and psychological path of personal liberation, a course to enter into Dhamma knowledge and Vipassana practice. We were almost 150 people (75 women and 75 men) living, eating and practicing Vipassana in noble silence and separated according to gender. We had 10 hours of meditation a day, from 4:00 am that the gong woke us up till 9:00pm. We had 1 hour of Dhamma teaching from S.N. Goenka followed by video as well.
The most I liked is to enter into the experience of knowing how my mind works, how can I focus my mind in my breathing, making it very sharp, able to feel the sensations that arise and pass away in my body. Doing this exercise in fully concentration and equanimity really helps to experience the impermanent nature of sensations which are the cause of our reactions (sankhara), of our mental conditioning behavior, frustrations, aversions and cravings. The aim of the technique is to be aware of that impermanent nature of sensations and learn not to react but maintain equanimity before all the vicissitudes that we might face in daily life. Step by step with constancy and patience this experience will bring a meditator deeper and deeper in the law of Dhamma whose final goal is the full liberation from suffering and attain enlightenment.
Attending this course one learns many more things about Buddha and his path which is universal and offered to all human beings. This path does not require faith in God or in any particular belief, it is a scientific and universal way to rid oneself of misery and discover by observing sensations in the inner self the way of liberation, it means to enter into the sphere of peace, harmony, happiness and compassion. I really hope this practice will help me to react with equanimity and compassion; I would like to become more like Jesus who still hung in the cross only felt compassion and forgiveness towards those who were killing him. I finish my sharing with the wish that at the end of the course all the participants got: “May all beings be happy, peaceful, liberated”

Carmen Cardoza

15-Jun-2010

Mass marriages in Songadh



I have been doing a six month training at SHAKTI in Songadh. The Centre was started to reach out to the people of Surat and Tapi Districts through Legal and Human Rights education, awareness programmes and other different activities. which are carried on in 783 villages of 7 Adivasi Talukas.

One of the activities of SHAKTI this year is to become aware of the the present reality of the Adivasis (the first settlers in the forest lands of India). We were asked to study their background, their Identity, Social, Cultural, Economic, Educational, Political, Legal and Human Rights situation.


We took up an issue that affects the people especially their economic conditions. They have the custom of borrowing large sums of money to celebrate their weddings and are in debt for many years. In the month of April we planned to have a Samuhlagna (a collective wedding celebration ) done in a typical Adivasi way.
There were many questions asked by different people like :

Why do you want to have collective weddingss?
How would they be done?
Who would take the responsibilities?

We contacted different villages of 8 Talukas, listed the names of those who were preparing to get married in the month of May 2010 and explained to them about the Samuhlagna. The aim of the Samuhlagna was: “To revive old ways of celebrating the Adivasi weddings”. “To get married without spending much money” or without any competition.” “ To evolve a system where the Adivasis could live with dignity in all aspects of life”.
We reached out to the families of the couples who were to be married, collected donations in cash and kind from people who work in government offices, hospitals, schools, hotels, shops, at the same time invited them for the weddings at Shakti on 30th of May 2010, where there were 29 couples from different talukas.

The blessings of the wedding took place according to the customs of each tribe, beginning with the Gamit followed by Vasava, Kokni and Chowdhri. After the blessing many officers who were present addressed the newly married couples. .All the couples were very happy to receive a variety of gifts. Thereafter, dinner was provided for all. It was really an event to remember for the couples. The entire celebration continued all through the night and upto the next morning when each one left for their own place.

We hope that this carries on and the next year we will have more couples join in this collective wedding

PANNA GAMIT




06-Jun-2010

WOMEN'S DAY- VYARA






MAHILA DIN OR WOMEN'S DAY
This year Women's Day was a joyful, colourful affair in the Vyara Mission ! ! It was held on the 11th of April , in the picturesque village of CHONDI ! The brains behind were of course our three musketeers Puriel, Nirmala and Theresa, but they galvanized the women into action, and so everything was done by our women…
The Railway line divides Vyara into eight villages in the west and thirteen in the east and so the responsibilities were divided too.. the west decided to do the entertaining, and entertained us they did , with their tribal dances and skits with social messages…the evil of liquor and a new trend of sending their girls to an unknown area for marriage……And the thirteen villages of the east organized the function !
The seating arrangements, under the shady or better squatting area for each village was marked , of course the guests had chairs
The Minister for tribal affairs graced the occasion and told them to get ready as the time was soon coming when women would be given more opportunities in governing. The other two guests were ladies who have come up the ladder…The Deputy General Manager of the Kakrapar Atomic Energy plant ,herself a tribal gave the women quite some tips and so did the sarpanch of the neighbouring area a gamit tribal too
A tasty meal on plantain leaves was served to one and all
What a pleasure it was to see our women welcoming all with song and dance,
organizing, announcing, acting, serving, doing the honours Truly it was a day to remember!
Sr. Antoinette Fonseca

24-Jan-2010

Jacinta in Peru

JACINTA DEMELLO

Jacinta one of our Missionaries born and brought up in SURAT and sent to Peru 15 years ago, is now with us for a holiday which she takes every 5years to visit her family. She shared her experiences in this beautiful jungle of Peru, with a group of interested lay people from the Parish on Sunday the 24th of Jaunary 2010. Her sharing was vividly depicted by stunning pictures of her life with this group of people called the Aguarunas

The Aguarunas are an indigenous people of the Peruvian jungle. Historically, they lived primarily on the banks of the Marañón River, a tributary of the Amazon in northern Peru near the border with Ecuador. Currently, they possess titled community lands in four of Peru's regions: Amazonas, Cajamarca, Loreto, and San Martin The Aguarunas have the reputation of being brave warriors, standing out for their skills in war. They live in the geographical area of the Marañón river, that is to say in the banks of the Marañón river and of its tributaries, the rivers Santiago, Nieva, Cenepa, Numpatakay and Chiriaco.

Jacinta moves with tremendous courage and great ease among these rivers. The rivers are their life and she has become part of this life in every way. Being there for the last 15 years she has become one of them which you can see from the pictures below





Jacinta on one of her trips to a village, the journeys are by river for days …



And then walking through the jungle. The boatman helps her to carry her luggage.


Living like the people means bathing and washing her clothes like them in the river.


Once there and settled down she meets the people in an open air auditorium






She spends the day visiting them in their homes and listening to their joys and sorrows.



Sometimes sharing in the joy and wonder of their natural wealth and beauty.

04-Jan-2010

Christmas in Chhota Udepur- Baroda





Christmas this year 2009 in Chhota Udepur was the best thing that could happen to me. I was there 3 days before the Feast and witnessed all the preparation .Both the Institutes , Don Boscos and Aradhna Sadan put forth their best talent in song and dance. The 24th night had a special charm and atmosphere of solemnity as well, as simplicity and love. Students and ex- students made up a large crowd but silence and peace was felt all through .All who were there , came becuase they felt family , felt at home in the warmth of love and acceptance of the fathers and sisters.


After Mass there was the traditional dancing till 5 in the morning .In the afternoon all shared in a meal together to as it were seal the bond of love till the next year .