Thursday, 23 October 2014

'You look Indian Ladan'

(Diwali,Thiravalangadu. India)
 ‘You look Indian’ if only you beautiful people knew how many times I hear this phrase in Thiruvalangadu village. To be honest, I am trying to blend in by wearing my new traditional Indian clothing and jewellery. I fully dress up from head to toe just to get some Chai from the local tea man. In Thiruvalangadu village, women often wear a sari, a long sheet of colourful cloth with patterns. This is draped over a simple or fancy blouse; worn by young ladies and woman. Little girls wear a pavada. A pavada is a long skirt worn under a blouse. Both are often daily patterned. How can I forget about the ‘Bindi’?  This is part of the women’s make-up in India. I am just attempting to explore South India at the moment since traditional clothing in India varies with region, religion and community. Every state of India has its own culture, traditions to follow and celebrate fairs and festivals with these traditions.
Receiving a ‘Diwali’ celebration invitation from one of the national volunteers was the highlight for this week. Diwali is a 5 day festival, celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil. As Muslims regard ‘Eid’ as a special and important holiday, Diwali is a festival that has as much meaning for Hindus. Whatever your faith, you can join in the festivity that is "The Festival of Lights". Hindu Festivals are Huge in the UK, especially in London but I still never had the chance to experience any one of them. Luckily, me and the other International volunteers celebrated Diwali with Rakesh’s family in Thiruvalangadu village, their hospitality was incredible. The family cooked traditional South Indian food for us and just like a Somali house we were given Chai tea and biscuits after our meal (yummy).  

(Imogen, Laura, Pippa,Ajay,Anne, Natalie and me)

(Rakesh's Family, Thiruvalangadu)

Due to massive protests and ‘Diwali’ Holiday in Tamil Nadu district, we found it hard to organise events for the community. Yet, we have managed to take part in ‘International Day of Rural women’ event in Chenammapet village. The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Rural Women celebrates and honours the role of rural women on October 15 each year. It recognises rural women’s importance in enhancing agricultural and rural development worldwide. Besides, it was an opportunity for Restless Development to spread its reach and message across the district. 

Personally, I would love to work with women in developing countries in the future; this event opened my eyes to the variety of issues women in rural areas deal with on a daily basis. On the day we organised games, competitions and even drama about the importance of education for young girls in the village. I feel compelled to mention, how stunning the women in the event looked; with their fresh flowers in their hair and colourful Saris. I have enormous respect for Indian women for keeping their tradition and culture.

(International day of Rural Women Event, Chenammapet)
I learned that I can grow so much through experiences that challenge me and place me outside of my comfort zone. I can adjust to a new country by myself and stretch myself to learn and teach within it. 
(My mommy didn't raise no fool did she hooyo? K'naan)
Follow me on Twitter '@Lathaney'

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