Indian Tea Party at The ASHA Centre in Gloucestershire

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A couple looking proudly at the CANDALA they have made

Indian Tea Party at The ASHA Centre in Gloucestershire

Joy, celebration and play were the order of the day as fourteen Indian girls from The Lila Poonawalla Foundation shared with us an exquisite feast of cultural delights to mark Ganpati Day in honour of Lord Ganesh, the Indian Elephant God.

The afternoon’s entertainment began with an offering at a beautiful altar to Ganesh and was followed by a colourful, aromatic mix of dance, music, song, games and food. It was indeed an auspicious occasion. The girls shared abundantly of their sweetness, talent and delight and their attention to organisation, detail and hospitality was second to none. What magical memories! Scattered rose petals, proffering of rice, wishes made and the final collective offering poured into the river – our own ‘Ganges’. Spices, sweetmeats and the sound of effervescent giggles.

I felt as if a tapestry of light was being woven through all the diverse, conversations that I had with strangers who felt like old, familiar friends. Amongst them I met a Buddhist, a Christian, a Moslem, a shaman, a seer, a baker, a teacher, a Nepali cook and a local blacksmith.

My exchange with a wizened forester was a wonder in the true sense of the word. He carried a large, wooden staff entwined with an ancient vine that wound around the stick with a strong, serpentine energy which brought to mind the healing symbol of The Caduceus. He told me that it was mine and gave it to me there and then – a gift from the heart – a gift from Ganesh, a gift from God.

For me the day at Asha marked a portal to a new beginning. I came away from this interfaith gathering with a deep sense of gratitude and the knowledge that we had all been very richly blessed.


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