Today was Balavihar day! One of the traditional activities we start out with is showing the kids on the glove where India is and where America is, and showing where the sun (with a flashlight) is in relative position to Earth. The kids seem to always be super interested in that, and then we usually go into Hot Potato or something as an icebreaker to learn everybody’s name! For this day we helped the kids create bracelets for themselves with their initials! The group has already gotten much more comfortable with talking and playing with the village kids. We truly have fun while showing the little kids more about our life and teaching them about how they can improve theirs! The scenery around the village is also an extra bonus 😀
The children here play with the same innocence and fascination as little children in America. We visited an Adolescent Girls’ Group mixed with a Balvihar group. We had an introduction where we tossed around balloons on it with the children’s names, and played music. The balloons were so much fun for all the kids and they couldn’t get enough of it. After teaching the older girls a lesson in Taekwondo, the group took us to a field with a stage and performed a few skits for us. This then proceeded into a dance competition and you can see in the photo that I didn’t want to be left out! We sang and danced, and even had a race, and at the end, one of the girls from the village came up to me and told me that “America and India are both #1.”
This day was our first encounter with the children of the village! Our Ganga group first met a sort of daycare in the village with small children like the one above. We played this game called “Ladoo” where you count up to 10 in a circle, but you say “ladoo” instead of 5 and 10. If you make a mistake, you are out and you have to get up and sing, dance, or show some sort of talent. It was super fun, and we all did some talent, including the chicken dance and a soulful rendition of Beyonce’s Halo. We realized that it takes a while for the children of the village to get used to us, but when we really get started, everybody got along and we had an awesome time! In order to travel within groups we passed through rice fields that were in perfect view of the Himalayas! It was an amazing experience.
The day started off rocky, as people stumbled out of their beds and took bucket showers, some hot, some cold. We then went to a morning pooja which preceded our orientation session. We met Kshamaji, the head of CORD Sidhbari, who was instructed by Gurudev himself to help the villagers around the center. We all introduced ourselves and got to know each other, and then Narenderji, the director, gave us an orientation in the different programs around CORD Sidhbari. The group then split up into respective smaller groups and we were guided around the center by different volunteers. After the orientation was done, we went for aarthi at the beautiful Sandeepany Ashram, which provided us with a full view of the mountains (more pictures to come later!). And as the sun set on the golden statue of Gurudev at the Ashram, we headed home for dinner and rest.
Also, apparently Jayendra was born in Sidhbari. Who knew?
The entire group visited the Golden Temple on the way to Sidhbari, a trip that turned out to be a very valuable experience for the adults and kids. We stepped out of the bus and into horse-driven carts that took us through the narrow alleyways towards the temple. Taking off our shoes, we entered the temple and made a full circle around the building. We also ate hot shiro, a sweet prasad presented in leaf-made bowls, was an instant favorite among the group! Leaving the temple, we were a little more in tune with another beautiful religion, Sikhism, as well as its holiest establishment, the Golden Temple.
The Taj Mahal, a wonder of the world, and a great start to our journey in India. Today, members of the Ganga Group visited the Taj Mahal, and it was a sight to behold. “Gorgeous and intricately made. It’s hard to believe it was made so long ago,” said Anshul Chandan. Despite the oppressive weather, the Taj Mahal was magnificent!
On April 7, the CORD volunteer group from Rameshwaram in Irvine, CA held a walk-a-thon to increase awareness about CORD and its activities. There were several stations along the Mile Square Park route, such as an Ayurveda, Yoga, and massage chairs. Towards the end, CORD had a raffle with the grand prize, a Kindle Fire HD, that was a great success! Overall, a good time for all and a bright day for CORD! Check out the gallery below for pictures of the event!