Published Tue, Nov 16, 21.
Written by Jonathan Bollback.


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In November India explodes with the highly anticipated start of the Hindu festival, Diwali. The whole of India is lit up during this festival of lights. Mukti residents that have families are excitedly picked up from the front gate at Mukti Mission, which for a few hours becomes a hub of activity; mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and uncles who have traveled from all over are reunited with their girls (many Mukti residents have a living family member who, due to extreme poverty, cannot care adequately for their child/grandchild). However, not every Mukti girl gets to experience a loving reunion. Over fifty girls stay at the Mission during Diwali (and other holidays) and great effort is expended to make the two weeks of Diwali as much fun for these girls as for those able to celebrate with family.

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Each morning the Pandita Ramabai library is opened, where the girls love listening to audio cassettes, doing puzzles together, and of course reading books. Meanwhile, various art activities, including; making people-chains, Diwali lanterns, jewelry, and of course hand printing are enjoyed by all. The girls all enjoy the freedom of being creative and it is wonderful seeing the results of their creativity. In the afternoon there is a lot of fun experience, like opening up a makeshift beauty parlor, fair to say the girls go through a lot of nail varnish each afternoon! The older girls also love the baking sessions, the products of which are enjoyed by all during Friday night’s bonfire and firework display.

The girls are pleased to see their ‘sisters’ when they return and share stories from the past two weeks. It is great that the girls who aren’t able to go home can still share the fun things they have been able to do at the Mission. Whether back in their homes or at Mukti, all of the girls seem very refreshed and energized by the Diwali break.

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