Category Archives: drafts

News: Spring Festival with the induction of a Fairy House


Tree house fairy

Patna. 1 March: As part of the Celebration of the Spring season, Tarumitra students inducted a fairy tree house on a Kamroop tree (Ficus retusa) in their Bio-reserve in Digha. Tiny tots from Notre Dame Montessori and high schoolers from S.R Vidyapeeth and Adarsh Bal Vidyalaya along with their teachers climbed up the tree house built by students from Assam and Bihar

Tree inau Shashidarshan

Montessori kids to high school students joined the Spring Festival at the bottom of the Fairy Tree, Kamroop Ficus retusa. Shashidarshan (extreme left) was the force behind the tree house above!

Adding to the excitement of the children, Chief Guest on the occasion, Ms Glenda Gaulstan, Principal, St. Dominic Savio’s High School and Guest of Honour, Sr. Mary Namrata SND, Headmistress, Notre Dame Academy cut the ribbon and blessed the tree house.

A fairy tree at the Bioreserve? That is a long story. Last many years children claim to be seeing fairies on the Ficus retusa!  One of the native North Americans, a venerable woman from the Mashantaket Pico people  who visited us a few years back told the children that the tree was “filled with beings!”  and she clarified to them that the Beings are good spirits like angels and fairies..

When the students congregated in the hall yesterday, there was excitement and eagerness to climb up the tree to spend sometime in the tree house! They arrived in small groups and occupied chairs in the hall and waited for the Chief guest to arrive.

Tree inau 20

Gathered at the Teilhard de Chardin hall, the audience listening to the Chief Guest,  Ms Glenda Golstaun

It was an extraordinary day at the Tarumitra Bio-reserve of rare and vanishing trees. With the spring season in full bloom, a new tree house (fairy home) was inducted amidst the presence of students, educationists, well wishers and above all children of Patna schools.

Tree Akshay

The 10×10 feet sized tree house was a labour of love between Assam and Bihar. Akshay Dutta was an expert on Bamboo work

Students from Assam and Bihar worked hard for more than a month for making the second tree house of Tarumitra in its premises. Software engineer and the chief architect of the tree house, Shashidarshan opined “This tree house is a step towards students especially, children befriending nature more closely.” Built on the rare Kamroop tree, this tree-house nestels approximately 20 feet high, having washroom too in its lay out. “The house will be powered by solar energy!” said Akshay from Assam who labored with bamboos to make the dream come true.
Why so much ado about a tree house?

The Fairy house, Pari mahal, has been in the consciousness of the visiting students ever since it was told to them that fairies lived on the tree!

tree house bonsai

tree inau 15 Namrata

Tree house co-ordinated by Shashidarshan was an attempt to reconnect with the Earth says Ms Margaret Molomoo(right).

“This tree house is a step towards visualizing a simpler and greener lifestyle with a close bonding with tree-friends ” said the resident organic farmer and educationist Ms Margaret Molomoo from Darjeeling. “Our aim of igniting the young minds with a sense of reverence and respect for Mother Earth gets solidity on the tree house” she added.

It may be mentioned that veteran environmental activist Sr. Sarita Manavalan SCN planted the tree just 20 years back.

tree inau 11

Children climbing up to the “Fairy Home” on the Kamroop tree! Tree house focuses on our re-connection with the Earth

Devopriya Dutta who co-ordinates schools’ participation in ecological activities argued that human beings always want to go back to nature. “That’s why we prefer to go for a picnic to a forest floor on a holiday rather than to a Mall for shopping. All of us have deep bonds with Nature and every rendezvous with the Earth is a tryst we have with our long nature-connected past.”

tree inau 13 Namrata

Principal Glenda Golstaun (Lower) Sr. Mary Namrata SND (middle) and Devopriya Dutta (above) coming down after their rendezvous with the fairies..

Paramjeet Kaur, a specialist on timber products said, “Bamboos can last up to 100 years or more if treated well. It is recyclable in many ways and has multipurpose usages. The idea behind tree house is also to promote bamboo architecture and making it a part of our daily lives.”

Tree Akshay 2

Akshay Dutta from Assam overseeing the work of the tree house which took over a month

The program was followed by organic feast and refreshment straight from the Tarumitra organic farm. Present also were Principals and teachers from various schools along with Fr. Bobby Vadakkel from Bangalore.

Swiss 2

Led by Maria Winiger (left) and a Parliamentarian from Switzerland Catherine Hubacher (right) spent two days studying the working of Tarumitra.

Earlier a Delegation of Social workers, teachers and Parliamentarians from Switzerland visited the site and expressed their satisfaction over the experiments in Environmental Education imparted at Tarumitra. A Member of Parliament, Catherine Hubacher who climbed up the tree commented that the place was certainly fit for the fairies!


Team leader Maria Winiger (top) with a veteran social worker Anita going up to the tree house

Cathering Hubacher, a parliamentarian from Switzerland inspected the tree and whispered to us, “Looks like it is fit for the fairies!

tree Catherine Hubacher

Swiss MP Catherine Hubacher on the tree!

tree inau12

Students from Adarsh Balvidyalaya and S. R Vidyapeeth getting used to the Tree house

tree Glenda Namrata and Devopriya

Sr. Namrata SND, Ms Glenda Golstaun and Devopriya Dutta evaluating the tree house in progess

Eco-rice festival celebrated in alfresco ambiance


Patna. 13 Jan: Students hailing from Don Bosco, St. Joseph’s, May Flower, A.N College and St. Xavier’s College congregated under the expansive Kamroop tree in Tarumitra to welcome back the life-giving Sun from the Southern hemisphere, now entering the zodiac of Makar “Capricorn.”
The Chief Guest of the occasion, the director of May Flower higher secondary School, Sri Jairam Sharma led the students to the tasting of Organic Chura “flattened rice”and curd with his wise words.


A PowerPoint presentation on Makar Sankranti facilitated in giving the Festival an ecological slant

Fr. Robert Athickal, thru a special colorful PowerPoint presentation on the occasion gave the students ample invitation to reflect on the rice cultivation in the State and beyond. He underlined the fact that Asian cultures are based on rice and rice preparations. Rice forms the central staple food in Asia.

The scanty monsoon last two years meant that very few farmers managed to cultivate their traditional rice crop. In fact rice cultivation is not popular at all among the present generation of youngsters.

Tarumitra students celebrate the Solar feast of Makar Sankranti  as Chura Dahi parv, essentially as a festival of the Sun by reverentially consuming rice, curd and sesame seeds. Traditionally people all over the state organize a repast made of flattened rice, sesame seeds and freshly made curd for the occasion. The students under the leadership of Anushka and Shivani from St. Xavier’s College organized the Organic festival of Rice with the same fare.

Makar_Shivani and Anushka

St. Xavier’s college students, Shivani and Anushka compered the program

“The distinct feature of the celebration was that the feast was entirely organic and eco-friendly, ” said Anushka. ” We are using the freshly pounded rice from our own organic farm!” said Anunshka.

Jesuits and loretos

Among the generous souls came to help out the farm work: Loreto Juniors from Kolkata and Jesuit Juniors from Khaspur posing with Robert Athickal SJ(extreme right).

Students from different schools and colleges worked hard to produce totally organic rice from last summer. “We did not employ any hired labor to work in the rice field, instead we did the whole chore ourselves!” said Vishal, post graduate student of Environmental Sciences from A.N College. “We did not resort to the use of any chemical fertilizer or pesticides in the crop. The sowing, harvesting and threshing of the rice was entirely done by students,” said Gaurav from the same college.

Organic farm work

Margaret (right) helping the volunteers from A.N College with the work in the Organic Farm. Vishal (center) coordinated the participation.

Speaking on the occasion former activist of Tarumitra, Eva Gagan from Australia who was present on the occasion along with her husband Gagan and son Evang said that the festival reminded the people of the bygone variety-rich rice fields of Bihar. She said that the varieties have disappeared at the onslaught of hybrid rice. Very few farmers have the determination and courage to cultivate the traditional rice.


Devopriya Dutta (4th from left) and Maragaret Molomoo (2nd from right) co-ordinated the entire cultivation and harvesting.

Coordinator of the Organic Farming, Ms Margaret Molomoo said every Indian village had its own rice variety conserved and handed over by many generations. Scientists estimated a total of over 20,000 rice varieties in the country. An earlier Tarumitra survey showed that people in Bihar cultivated less than 80 varieties of rice.

It was also the inauguration of a specially designed alfresco outdoor class room “Oxygen bar” in Tarumitra.

Oxygen bar 11

A team from Solar Alternatives helped Banares  (top) to set up the Oxygen Bar

“Oval shaped, the class room under the trees can seat 150 students. The place is totally protected from mosquitoes inside a giant netting system!” said Saharsh who contributed to construct the innovative classroom which the students have named, “Oxygen Bar!”

Oxygen bar 18

Director of May Flower school, Jairam Sharma cut the ribbon and inaugurated the Oxygen Bar!

The Oxygen Bar has its own story to narrate!

An earlier tremor from 2016 left one of our water reservoirs extremely damaged. While plans for repair came up, one of our visitors suggested the possibility of converting it into an outdoor classroom. The idea got spruced up with a design and plan of action by the students.

Family Portrait 12.2015 (4)

Dr Jeffrey Chirayil and his wife Dr Meril Chirayil, Dallas USA offered to sponsor the Oxygen Bar as soon as they heard of it

There was this offer of sponsorship from Dr. Meril Abraham Chirayil and her husband, Dr. Jeffrey Joseph Chirayil from Dallas USA. They took time from their hospital work to learn as how we were going to make the bar with a difference!

Paul Mariadoss SJ, from Solar Alternatives, suggested covering the space with netting to protect the students from mosquitoes.

Paul Mariadoss_small

Paul Mariadoss SJ, software and hardware engineer,   has  been organizing solar campaigns from the Jesuit center at Phulwarisharif. (

The problem was to find a huge mosquito net for the roof!
Being a physicist, Fr. Paul used his good ol’ math’s formula to calculate the roof-size and got the plastic Netting tailor-made for the spot. That was hard work.

Oxygen bar construction

Students from St. Xavier’s worked hard to get the foundation done in time

Banaras and his team of masons then built it up summarily with students from St. Xavier’s college helping out to dig up the foundations for posts. Gaurav, Vishal and Priti from A.N College worked on the spot several days before the place took shape.

Oxygen bar 5

Students from different colleges helped out to build the structure

“The spot is an excellent place for meditation in the mornings!” said Sr. Amalia who advocates the promotion of an earth-building eco-spirituality for our times. The Tertian Sisters spent a week at Tarumitra listening to Fr, Robert Athickal SJ presenting the inspiring insights of Big History of the universe.

oxygen bar 14

When completed Oxygen Bar could seat 150 students inside in a full circle, overlooking the water inside

The director of May Flower School, Jairam Sharma, by cutting a ribbon inducted the classroom. It is now being used daily, especially for the campaign to inform people about the issues of clean drinking water.

Students suggested the appellation for the al fresco classroom:  Oxygen Bar!

Oxygen bar17

Students offered special thanks to Drs. Meril and Jeffrey Chirayil!

The celebration of Makar Sankranti continued under the Pakur tree when the participating students served curd, rice and sesame seeds in leaf-plates and ate them with relish.


Fatema Hussain (left), an Intern from Jindal University, Sonipat Haryana said that it was her first such celebration under the trees. The CJ tertian Sisters from Allahabad, Bangalore and Patna helped to serve the dishes


River Ganga “Ganges” Chatt and women from Six Continents


As we write these lines sitting inside the Tarumitra Bio-reserve in Patna, the festival of Chatt is on. It is an agricultural festival falls on the  6th day after Divali, the Festival of lights.
What marks the Chatt festival is that the whole thing is solemnized at the banks of River Ganga “Ganges.” Nothing less than a million people congregate on the banks of this river in the capital district of Patna alone. Known as the perfect festival with the whole city spruced up, washed and decked, zillions of lights and thousands of volunteers guiding the people for their annual march to the great River.
People, women in particular offer baskets of fruits, vegetables and sweets to the setting Sun in the evenings and the rising Sun in the mornings. It is a huge festival of family reunion and within the radius of lofty sentiments to the Father Sun, Mother Earth and Sister River.


A Million people gather around River Ganges during the festival of Chatt within the district of Patna

River Ganga “Ganges” takes the brunt of the Festival!
When a million people take bath and cook their meals by the river, one can imagine the impact this human activity has on the river. Water turns murky and foul smelling and perfectly unhealthy as declared by the Pollution Control Board and the scientific community.
We are reminded of what Ann Bankroft and team told us just a year back when they traveled along the River Ganga “Ganges” in their boat.

Ann Bankroft

Ann Bankroft (fourth from left) and team Photos by

Renowned polar explorers and educators  Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen led a team of six women, from six continents, on an 2525 km (1,569 mile), 60-day long expedition following the river Ganges from her origin Gaumukh to the Bay of Bengal. They undertook this adventurous trip to raise the attention of people to the pathetic situation of the River Ganges that flowed through the Indian peninsula from times immemorial.
They took breaks on and off along the course of the river. They stopped by us at the Tarumitra Bio-reserve on 22 November 2015!
Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, along with 6 women explorers from around the globe, each representing their continent and their own unique water crisis.


Student leaders from different schools received the Explorers along with a Team from TERI Delhi

Expedition team with Tarumitra students: Ann Bancroft, Minnesota, USA Liv Arnesen, Oslo, Norway Olfat Haider, Haifa, Israel Cindy Jiaojiao Hu, Beijing, China Marcia Gutierrez, Temuco, Chile Kim Smith, Cape Town, South Africa Lisa te Heuheu, Turangi, New Zealand Krushnaa Patil, Mumbai
Ann Bancroft, first known woman to reach both the North and South Poles on foot and Liv Arnesen, first woman to ski solo to the South Pole teamed up in 2000 to become the first women to ski across Antarctica. They did this with the help of 3 million kids following along and they continue that partnership with their most lofty expedition yet. Ann and Liv have handpicked a woman from each continent to create the team to achieve Access Water.

Ganga route

Ann Bankroft and team traveled on the River along the most crowded part of the country: River Ganges gives water to 400 million people

Ann Bancroft’s goal was to lead a conversation with millions of youth that will raise awareness and inspire the future leaders of the world to work towards a safe and abundant world, starting with access to clean water.

Why River Ganges?
Today Indian people are slowly realizing the fact that they have a crisis on drinking water. Humans need fresh water to survive. We grow food with it, drink it, cook with it and bathe in it. We use it to create the goods and services that form our global economy. There is no substitute for fresh water. It is more crucial for human survival than any source of fuel.
River Ganga along her tributaries supplies drinking water to roughly 400 million people, one third of the entire country.


The Students felicitated the Explorers under the sprawling Kadam tree in the Bio-reserve

But fresh water is becoming scarce. One in eight people lack access to clean water and more than three million die each year from water-related health problems. Battles for water are creating tensions between people, interests groups and regions. In some cases, they are causing armed conflicts. Left untouched, these challenges will only worsen. Within just 15 years from now, nearly two hundred crores (2 billion) people will live in areas of severe water scarcity. The consequences are clear.
“We can solve the water crisis by bringing it to the forefront of the global agenda. This means raising awareness on water access issues, promoting resource efficiency and cooperation on the problems of pollution and climate change,” commented one of the women from Anne Bankroft’s team.
1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, roughly one-sixth of the world’s population.
2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water related illnesses.
More people die from lack of clean water and sanitation each year than are killed by all forms of violence, including war. (Source: Blue Planet Network)
400 million residents rely on the Ganges for water, food, bathing, and worship. The Ganges River is one of the most important and sacred rivers in the world and water has a major impact on the human and animal inhabitants living along the river.
Ann Bankroft and team spent half a day at Tarumitra

Ann bankfrot and Siji

TISS scholar Siji Varghese SJ in conversation with Ann Bankroft among the 19 year old trees initially planted by students

Working in tandem with TERI, Delhi, Tarumitra students welcomed the expedition to the forested ambience of Tarumitra. Namita Sharma and Garima Kaushik from TERI, Delhi camped in Patna to welcome the team.


TERI team member, Garima Kaushik helped the students to interact with the Explorers!

Ann Bankroft spent considerable amount of time taking a walk around the organic farm and talked to many students on their work to protect the planet. Interacting with students who were seated under the Kadamb tree, she answered their queries adding a small fire in their hearts for adventures.
Each of the team mates from the six continents spoke in turn and conveyed their global concern for drinking water. The 18 year old Krishna Patil of course was a crowd puller. Having climbed the Mount Everest before she was 18, Krishna had very interesting anecdotes to share.

ICM Sisters at Tarumitra Ganges3

The ICM Educators take a ride River Ganges on a country boat as part of their Eco-retreat at Tarumitra

Siji Noorokaryil SJ, research student from TISS, Mumbai said that he was awed by the presence of the eight extraordinary courageous women from all the continents, sharing breathtaking moments with students in Patna.
Drinking water crisis in Bihar: the ubiquitous RO Machines
It was a memorable day for the Water-activists of Tarumitra!
Tarumitra students have been on several campaigns related to Water. There has been a concerted effort from the part of RO Machines (Reverse Osmosis) to belittle the available safe drinking water in the Gangetic plains. They frighten people in such a way, people resort to the RO Machines for filtering the already safe drinking water.
Tarumitra students organized a through testing of drinking water from 27 water sources in Patna in the heartland of India and found that none of the sources were contaminated. The RO machine companies probably got some rare stories of contaminated water planted in the media to a level an ordinary citizen was convinced that his/her water taps were contaminated. This resulted in the largescale marketing of RO machines all over the country.

Summer camp_Shweta and Sanskriti

Shweta Marandi and Sanskriti Singh led the campaign on water purifiers

Sanskriti Singh from Christ University Bangalore who led the campaign said, “While the bottled water is bereft of all naturally available minerals, the tap water which we tested had all the necessary minerals for the human body.” Devopriya Dutta who carries forward the message on the deadly water available in bottles, is confident that thousands of people got a chance to open their eyes and examine for themselves if they really needed to buy the expensive filtration machines.

Summer camp_Ganga maiya ki khichari

Tarumitra campaign for drinking water: Carmel students organize a meditation session in the water

Dr. Ashok Ghosh who is called the “Water man of Patna” opined that the growing water crisis in Patna is created by the RO machines. He told the students, “I have no water purifiers in my home in Patna. I drink water straight from the tap and I am perfectly healthy!”  Dr. Ghosh insists that no water purifier should be put up without testing the water sources at least once in a good lab.

Ann and team with St Xaviers

Students from St. Xavier’s school danced a farewell song to Ann Bankroft and team of explorers..

Ecology in Theological Studies

Thirty seven students of the graduate program of studies (B.Th) of Vidyajyoti Institute of Religious studies, Delhi attended a week long exercise on eco-theology 18-22 Feb 2013.

Theology in India means an investigation into one’s faith, mimansa broadly, to seek answers to many contemporary questions of our times. Robert Athikal S.J, from Tarumitra animated the workshop.

The broad context of the workshop has been the basic idea that Asians generally are religious in their upbringing and life. Tarumitra’s attempt has been to connect effectively the conservation of the planet to one’s Faith.

Both World Wide Fund (WWF) and United Nations have been attempting to high light the connections between Faith and Conservation in the past. Many have commented positively on their attempt.


Vidyajyoti College is situated in the proximity of the University of Delhi

Continue reading

Vanishing Rice varieties celebrated at Makar Sankranti

Patna. 14 Jan:  Over a hundred students, their parents and  teachers assembled at Tarumitra Bio-reserve in Digha to celebrate the vanishing rice-varieties on the rice festival of Makar Sankranti.

MS Karishma compering

Educationist, Fr. Tom Karthanam lit the traditional lamp to initiate the celebrations along with the Director of May Flower, Dr. Jairam Sharma and Ms Karishma Das   from Don Bosco Academy. Speaking on the occasion Karishma of class 9 said that most of the traditional rice churas  “flattened rice” has disappeared from the market entirely. “Hardly can we collect more than three to four varieties of flattened rice” said she.

Continue reading

It is harvesting and threshing time at Tarumitra!‏

Tarumitra students have been  busy with the Organic Farming right from the Monsoon earlier this year.
All the three varieties of rice they planted were reported to be on the verge of extinction. Students from KR High School, Bettiah under the leadership of Sadrey Alam collected the seeds of Mirchaiya and brought them as a gift to Tarumitra at the end of the last summer camp. Four Interns from A.N College helped out to plant the rice-seedlings following the SRI (System of Rice Intensification) way. An average of 250 grains per ear is considered a very good yield in the first year of the organic cultivation.
The Mirchaiya rice has become the talk of the visitors here since the yield has been very good.
The students from different schools took turns to harvest the rice. The last batch of harvesting would  be done by 27 November Mount Carmel girls.

Hartman Girls engaged in Mirchaiya Rice  Harvesting