Dhussera 2019 in The Valley of Gods!
Kullu district is the heart and soul of the dev-bhumi Himachal, the land of goddesses and gods. Age-old traditions associated with village gods find the most alive and vibrant expression here in this beautiful and full of mystique and wonder.
Kullu Dussehra where hundreds of Gods and Goddesses decked up in their finery coverage for week-long festivity at Dhalpur grounds is one of its kind. The folk flavor of the festivity, rituals, and traditions here makes it totally different from Dussehra celebrations elsewhere in the country. Decorated with colorful raths and moharas amid the beat and rhythm folk instruments, Dhalpur ground during Dussehra presents an amazing scene.
Public Health at its root-like religion in its deepest foundations- is not just a set of specialized ideas and practices, but a way of seeing and working on the health of the whole people, the public.
Health is about the whole of life, and it includes our relationship to others, to the environment, to everything. That's where it overlaps with religion. And that's why many religious people get involved in the health of the people. They do all sorts of things, some you can see or touch, like starting a hospital, a clinic or a project, some you can't, like give care, compassion or emotional support. In that way, religion works as an asset.
Every second family that comes to Aash, has taken the child to their local deity/devta/shaman to seek a cure for the developmental disability the child has. Religion in many ways is science to people, the truth that they believe in, it matters to them and they live by it.
It is hard not to ignore this belief system. Whatever their reasons, it affects what they do and how they do it. Including their Health! Well, if we understand health quite broadly, then health is actually right at the heart of deep religious ideas in many traditions! It's about a whole healed world, where unnecessary sufferings and pain is done away with, where people live in peace with each other, and with the earth and its creatures. Actually that's also what the World Health Organization calls health!
Like every year, we visited the 350 devtass that have come from all over Kullu district to Dhallpur grounds to meet each other and their people. We were cheerfully welcomed by the Deullus ( people who stay with the devtas during Dussehra ) in the tents. We usually sit down with them, do small talks and tell them about the work we do at Aash with children with disabilities. They show a lot of interest and concern for the cause. In all these years of visiting the Devtas, have we not once come across once when people have not responded positively. People usually make a mental note of what we are saying and give references for people with disabilities they know in their villages.
It's usually noticed, that after Dhussera we have new child references coming to the center from the Devtas.
We found it difficult to come to terms with the ‘devta system’, initiall “I used to try talking the families out of it, but that created a barrier between me and them. The parents thought I was disrespecting their culture. After a lot of thought, we decided to work around this framework and approached the shamans. We educated them on various developmental disabilities so that they could direct the parents to our center.”- Shruti. We need to work with the system, make every element of the community an integral part of the chain. Systemin and sustainable changes are possible than!
We performed a flash mob with a local group pf volunteers Shahbhagita and a popular dance group D-Pyrates to bring awareness about disability in the community.
We also performed the song "AASH" written and sung by Yuvraj Negi at the Kala Kendra dring the evening festivities of Dhussera.
The time for the celebration of the victory of the good over the evil has arrived. This Dhuseera was truly an experience and reminder of the win of the good over the evil for us.
Let's continue in the same spirit!!!!