Tag Archives: Joseph Parekattil

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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Swiss MP Catherine Hubacher on the tree!

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

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

Eco-rice festival celebrated in alfresco ambiance

Makar_chura

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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Paul Mariadoss SJ, software and hardware engineer,   has  been organizing solar campaigns from the Jesuit center at Phulwarisharif. (http://www.patnajesuits.org/ECOLOGYM.aspx)

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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