The poverty of this city is well documented. Less known are the people who strive daily to make a difference. We will get a chance to meet some of these people and visit their work in this amazing city. Bengal is feminine, infused with the culture of the Goddess in worship and agriculture. We visit temples of Kali, Durga, the mother and daughter, celebrate Annapurna, the goddess of plenty and follow the cycle of the the earth goddess, from planting to harvesting through festivals, music and dance.
We then turn to the heartland of the East and go to the villages near the university town of Santiniketan. This 'abode of peace' was founded in 1901 by the famous poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, who began a unique rural educational institution, which emphasizes the relationship of human beings with nature and art. The journey to the East has developed as a response to people coming on the Buddhapath pilgrimage and wanting to go deeper into Indian culture, to understand the wisdom of sustainable indigenous systems and practices.
The non-profit Ahimsa Trust, which is partly supported by proceeds of the Buddhapath pilgrimage, works in nine ethnically-diverse villages in the vicinity of Santiniketan. Farmers, women and youth are focusing on areas such as organic farming, kitchen garden seed funds, medicinal plants, craft training, product improvement, and barter of essential goods and services, and for cultural strengthening and functional literacy. The Journey to the East is a way for this work to be self-sustaining.
Youth groups are being trained to be knowledgeable guides for this lifestyle-tourism where visitors will be encouraged to participate in community work such as cooking and food processing as well as craft-making and the various stages of the rice-growing cycle. The programme coordinator of the work we will be visiting is Ms Chandana Dey, who will be guiding the journey along with Sucharita Seal.
Day 1, February 2nd: Arrive in Kokata.
Day 2, February 3rd: Kolkata - Santiniketan.
Day 3, February 4th: Santiniketan.
Day 4, February 5th: Santiniketan.
Day 5, February 6th: Santiniketan.
Day 6, February 7th: Santiniketan.
Day 7, February 8th: Santiniketan - Kolkata.
Day 8, February 9th: Departure from Kolkata.
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