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Educating Rural India February 2013
Pongal Celebrations
Pongal, widely celebrated in Tamil Nadu state of India at the end of the harvest season, is a thanksgiving festival. It is a way of expressing gratitude to the sun, soil, water and oxen. People wake up before sun rise on this day and cook rice in earthen pot in their courtyard on stove made of bricks. When the water starts boiling and over flows people shout “Pongolo Pongal”.

Once Pongal (a sweet dish prepared from rice & jaggery) is cooked, it is removed from the stove and a puja is offered. A small portion is kept in a leaf and served to the crows. Homes are decorated with banana and mango leaves and decorative patterns (called kolam) are drawn on floor using rice flour.
IVMS Vanavasi
Pongal celebrations started with Gurupuja followed by a colourful presentation of cultural program by students. It included traditional dance, drama and songs (solo and group). Pongal and Karumbu (sugarcane) - traditional festival food items, were shared with students and volunteers.
Tuticorin School
Traditional games and dance marked Pongal celebrations at Tuticorin School. A Kolam (floor art) competition was also conducted where boys and girls participated enthusiastically. Within an hour 35 students displayed their creativeness in kolam.

Pongal, the traditional food offering of the festival, was started by lighting of fire by the Principal. While preparing the pongal , Tamilnadu's traditional game Silambam (an artful and highly skillful wielding of a bamboo pole with speed and dexterity for defense and attack) was played by the students who were trained by the Physics teacher Mr. Amernath. 200 girls from UKG to 8th standard performed the Kummi dance while rest of teachers, non-teaching staff and students encouraged and participated as audience. Another dance on the traditional pongal song was performed by 6th and 7th standard girls.

Sweet pongal prepared in the kitchen was offered to god and then distributed with lunch to the students. Sugarcane was offered by Tuticorin volunteers which was also distributed among students.
Nagercoil School
The celebration was kicked off with a Pongal message by Amreesh Roshan (3rd B). Students participated in various competitions – Rangoli competition for 3rd to 5th and 6th to 8th, Drawing competition for 1st and 2nd standard and colouring competition for LKG and UKG students.

After Pongal was prepared, cultural program was performed by 6th - 7th standard students and teachers. A musical performance was presented by students trained by music teacher Mr. Robin and School Admin Mr. Shobin. Prasanna played the Mirudhangam and Prathiba and Prasanna sang songs. Vice Principal Mrs. Betsey spoke about the significance of Pongal. After the lunch break, students were treated to a movie at the school.
Cuddalore School
In the morning assembly students were quizzed about the significance of Pongal celebration. The interactivity set the tenor or the celebration. Sweet pongal was prepared by teachers and students in a new earthen pot. A massive rangoli was drawn and once pongal was ready, it was offered to the Sun. Afterwards it was distributed among students who left for home with the warm sweet after-taste of pongal.
Pool Lunch (Kuttansoru)
A pool lunch was organized for 3rd standard students at Vanavasi School based on a lesson in Tamil 'Kootansoru'. The activity was conducted to develop the spirit of cooperation and team work.

Kootanchooru is very prevalent in kids growing up in rural Tamil Nadu. The make-believe play of cooking and hosting lunch party becomes real when kids gather real ingredients and cook a meal. The name symbolizes the team work that goes into preparation of the dish. It can be roughly translated as ‘community meal’ in English.

Students brought ingredients like potato, tomato, vegetables, rice, pulse, oil, mustard, nuts, ghee, curry leaves etc. With these ingredients mixed vegetables and rice were cooked. Students collected firewood, washed and chopped vegetables, cleaned rice and pulses etc. With good team work and cooperation the delicious ’Kootanchoru’ and soup were prepared.
Republic Day Celebrations
India celebrated its 64th Republic Day on 26th Jan, 2013. A report on celebration in the schools:
Vanavasi School
Teachers and students celebrated the Republic day with great enthusiasm and spirit. The program started with the Principal hoisting National Flag followed by speech on Republic Day in Tamil and English by the students. Celebrations came to an end with distribution of chocolates.
Coimbatore School
Vande Mataram (both the older and A.R. Rehman versions) and Tagore's "Jodi tore.." welcomed the students on the beautiful morning of Republic Day. It inspired and ignited the National pride in everyone.

Dr Mira Krishnan, a gynaecologist in the village was the Chief Guest at the celebrations. After Flag hoisting by the Chief Guest, a well-coordinated march-past was presented by students. While speaking on the occasion, Dr. Krishnan gave an interesting list of "dos" and "don'ts" to young students of Isha Vidhya.

Nitin and Prithvi gave very precise and dignified speeches in English and Tamil respectively, highlighting the contributions of the common people in the freedom struggle. The event closed with the National Anthem and sweet distribution.
Cuddalore School
Cuddalore School invited the general public to attend the Republic Day celebrations. The response was phenomenal. Chief Guest Mr. Kanniyappan, the local village head, hoisted the National Flag. He was accompanied by the village council committee.

A colourful march past was smartly presented by the students. A brief speech on the significance of the Republic Day was given by the students and teachers. They also spoke about the sacrifice made by the National leaders to free India from colonial rule. The program ended with the National Anthem and distribution of sweets.
Tuticorin School
Tuticorin School had a joint celebration of Republic day and School Sports Day on 26th January. Dr. R. Shantha Kumari, Lecturer at APC Mahalekshmi college of Tuticorin, was the Chief Guest.

Science teacher, Mrs. Nagajothi welcomed the guests after the invocation. Flag hoisting was followed by a Marchpast by students which was loudly applauded by all the guests. Vice Principal Mrs. Subhashini and Tamil teacher Mrs. Sooriya gave a speech about the significance of the Republic Day.
Sports Day at Tuticorin School
Sports Day at Tuticorin School was celebrated along with the Republic Day on 26th Jan, 2013. Dr. R. Shantha Kumari, Lecturer at APC Mahalekshmi college of Tuticorin, was the Chief Guest. She kicked off the Sports Day by lighting the Olympic torch and releasing a dove.

Students of 4th – 8th standard performed a drill followed by dumbbell exercises by 5th standard students, Kolattam (a dance similar to Dandiya) by 6th standard girls and pyramid formations by 6th – 8th standard boys. The Chief guest was so impressed by pyramid formation display of the students that she declared a sponsorship of prizes for the students on the spot!

5Th standard student Marilingam performed Silabam, a traditional Tamil art of defense and attack using a long bamboo pole. Naveen Raja of 7th std and Theva of 6th std gave a short karate demo. After a break for refreshments, the finals of various races commenced. Games were also conducted for teachers, non-teaching staff and parents.

Prize distribution took place at the end of all competitions and displays. Puthukottai Police Inspector Mr. Ramalingalm and Head Constable Mr. Iyem Perumal handed over medals and certificates to the students. PET teacher Mr. Shantha Kumar gave the vote of thanks at end of the program.
Project GreenHands Activity at Vanavasi School
As part of environmental awareness building activity, 27 students from 8th standard participated in Project GreenHands program. Project GreenHands is a successful grass-root driven program to increase tree cover and create environmental awareness and sensitivity.
Saplings are planted by people and taken care of for 2 years, after which the tree can fend for itself. The program increases awareness about the symbiotic relationship between trees and humans, the need to increase forest cover and also health benefits from planting native trees that yield product useful to the society. Above all it plants and nurtures love for all other life on the planet in the hearts of the children.

During the activity, students prepared charts based on the information shared by the Project GreenHands team. They planted seedlings in the school grounds and also a built model of a garden using fast growing seeds and toy trees.
Science Exhibition at Nagercoil School
Nagercoil School held a Science Exhibition on Jan 2013. KG and 1st grade students exhibited their wide range of Activity and Learning Material and demonstrated their usage to the gathering of parents. The parents enjoyed the explanations and applauded their efforts.

2nd to 8th grade students exhibited Science and Social Science models and charts, drawing inspiration from their syllabus. Some of the highlights of the exhibition were Pranav’s (2nd grade) drip irrigation, 8th grade student Uma Shankar’s absorption of heat by black colour & 8th grade Manchu’s home circuits.

Art and Craft work by UKG - 8th grade students were displayed in the Art Gallery the same day.
Student offers flowers to teachers at IVMS Tuticorin
Real education is more than gathering of information. It is also about developing good habits and attitude. Isha Vidhya students, through their initiatives, constantly prove that they are picking up values, attitudes and habits that make the staff and the management extremely proud of them. Showing appreciation is not taught as part of curriculum but our students have picked it up from the conduct of teachers and other staff members.

In Tuticorin School garden, amongst other trees is the "Aagasa Malli” tree. Earlier in the year, the tree was loaded with flowers, many of which fell on ground on a daily basis. Recently, a 2nd standard student, Visuvasa Micheal, collected some of these flowers from the ground and prepared bouquets using chart paper, grass and thread. He then proceeded to welcome the teachers with these bouquets. As can be imagined, the teachers were very touched by this unexpected gesture and appreciated his initiative.

Is it any wonder that we love our teachers for the role that they are playing in these children’s lives?
Little hands that reached out
Five year old Cheguvera recently donated Rs. 5,049 to Isha Vidhya Rural Schools. He had saved the money over one year in his piggy bank and was very clear that he wanted his entire saving to go towards helping other children his age get a good education. Given his young age, his gesture is especially touching.
Sports Day at Coimbatore School
Coimbatore School conducted Sports day on 24.01.2013. It was a spectacular display of endurance, strength, flexibility, resilience, coordination and rhythm. Inspector Bhaskar (Vadavalli police station), Sub-inspector Susheela (Thondamuthur Police station), and Mr A Nagaraj the Public Prosecutor were Chief Guests on the occasion.

Students of 3rd – 8th standard performed exercises with hoops, dumbbell and Lezium. They also demonstrated Silambattam, Oyillattam and Pyramid formation. Competitions like relay race and kabbadi were conducted on the sports day.

Preliminary kabbadi matches were played between all the four houses before the sports day. Semi final winners played the finals on the sports day. Aravalli house team and Shivalik house team competed in the finals and the winners were Shivalik.

Before the Sports Day, students participated in races (25m, 50m, 75m and 100m), backward walking, hopping, skipping, sack race, long jump, shot put, javelin throw and discus throw. Four events were held for each class where students competed for gold, silver and bronze medals.

Prize distribution was conducted in the afternoon session. Besides prize for class competitions, individual championship cup was given to each class based on the students’ sportsmanship.

Students from classes 3 to 8 are divided into four houses - Aravalli, Vindhya, Satpura and Shivalik. Each house was awarded points on basis of wins in competitions, participation, team work, sportsman spirit etc. The overall Championship Cup was bagged by the Vindhya house.
@Isha Vidhya 2013 14, C.A. Theyvar Layout, Kannaperan Mills Road, Udayampalayam,
Coimbatore – 641 028, TN, India

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