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VANYATRA

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What is Vanyatra
Vanyatra (journey to forest) has a special historic significance to travel, especially in the Orient. Earlier sadhus and sanyasis (saints) traveled to deep overgrowths to attain enlightenment and salvation. Therefore such places were believed to contain greater truth that was both inspirational and divine. However the imprint of modernism pronounced it a sophisticated virtue, that we forget our roots and our history. But the question is to what extent can we be ungrateful? How much happiness can we derive from being irresponsible? The only resolve as Swami Vivekananda said is “to wake up inside”.
Why Vanyatra
of Tribals Society is not a mere organization that has been constituted to help tribal life thrive, Friends it is rather a thought, a cause for a better Indian Union territory as defined by the concept of equality, fraternity and liberty; these are rights that our constitution guarantees to every citizen.FTS strives to equate the balance through the initiation of a number of welfare projects in tribal areas. Vanyatra is a unique project which takes common life closer to that of the Vanavasis. Such outings involve visiting: Khel Kood Kendra (playing grounds), Satsang Kendra, Lok Kala mandal (cultural association community) of tribal areas. Volunteers are taken out to expeditions in remote villages with the hope that the “awareness” will contaminate the teeming millions and people will try to invest their time in doing something more meaningful and generous.

Vanyatra Experiences

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There are several interesting Vanyatra chapters. One of the most memorable and significant one is Rodney Clark (GM of Microsoft) visit to Alwar; a small district in Rajasthan. Clark’s journey through Todi village, Rajpurwada; Barankabas and the Banjara belt changed his outlook on dusty, dingy Indian villages and he himself acknowledged Prior to this experience I connected village to the notion of poor, struggling or under privileged.

The hospitability, ethnicity and warmth of the tribal people are something that will remain in my heart forever said Gautam Vohra who just like Clark visited the schools in the shadow of the Aravallis (Alwar district). Mr. Vohra’s Vanyatra memory is full of Gramin students exhibiting unmatched confidence in their performance; whether a recital, or a song or in oral mathematical calculations. Vanyatra to him was an educational tour that helped him come face to face with a transforming India.

Malla and Manjula Reddy equally benefited from their Vanyatra tours to Coimbatore. They were glad to witness that children at Gopanari and Mangarai were not only sent to school to become educated, but they were also taught the concept of national integrity through play ground activities. FTS does not only concentrate upon educating children, it works with the entire village and promotes communal harmony.

The intensive interaction with the Vanavasis is a delightful aspect of the Vanyatra program. This brings us closer to natural bounty, reveals the diversified cultural practices of Indian states and enlightens a lot on the value of life.

Vanyatra experience by Trisha Dalapati

My parents and I had our Ekal Vanyatra yesterday in Tardoho, West Bengal. It was an absolutely wonderful experience! The children were so sweet and excited. The teacher Ratna Mondal, her husband, and Sanch Anjali Sarder were very welcoming and informative.

We had a great time seeing the daily routine at the school and hearing the things the students learn. We started off with their prayers and chants. Then they performed two songs and a dance. Finally, they showed us their meditation and exercises. Ratna Kakima (Kakima means aunt in Bengali) also showed us the drawings or clay art that the students do every week. She explained her monthly training for Ekal; in fact, she had just gotten back from the last session of the year. At the end, I explained to them how I had gotten involved with Ekal. Upon hearing about my arangetram, the children wanted to see me dance. I showed them a very short piece from one of my dances!

We were thoroughly impressed with the discipline, respectfulness, and eagerness the students, even the youngest ones, showed. Overall, the Vanyatra was heartwarming. We definitely plan to visit again and other Ekal schools in our coming trips to India. Attached is a folder with some of the pictures from our trip.

Thank you so much for putting me in touch with the folks in India, specifically Mr. Nirmalya Bhattacharyya, who helped coordinate the trip. I will definitely be telling my friends, relatives, and BAGA members to have their own visit. I would be happy to do anything else to get the word out about the Vanyatra; please let me know.

Trisha Dalapati