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