Makar Sankranti marks the journey of the sun towards the north. It’s considered auspicious and marks the beginning of spring. People feed sweets to each other and say, “Take sweet, talk sweet,” or that’s how they said it in their English. The idea is to forget bad feelings from the past and to speak sweetly to remain friends. The children all received new clothes.
Makar Sankranti is also a big day for kite flying. Just like in The Kite Runner, they try to cut the strings of other kites, and when this happens, the children go running after to capture the kite. The kites were made of tissue and tore easily. The children don’t run as they pull the kite up. Some of the older boys and men were really good.
We also had many rituals all around the dedication of the new playground! Here’s a video of the new playground! Thank you, donors!
In the afternoon we made rangoli (sand paintings) at the boys’ dormitory, Woody gave a lesson on fire safety, their first ever, and then we gathered for a talent show. Suresh sang a beautiful solo, a song with Arabic overtones. Krushna recited a long ballad. We performed Under the Boardwalk, with Barbara as lead. Many children danced and sang for us.
It’s also a special day for women in Maharshtra (the state we’re in). Married women are invited for a get together called Haldi Kunku and given gifts. We were dressed in our saris and blessed with fruits and grains, given bindies (red dot between eyes), had our fingernails painted, and they gave us jewelry. Then we blessed the children by feeding them sweet sugar with sesame seeds, and they’d kiss our feet! Indians love rituals, and it was all fascinating.
That said, these are long, exhausting days of constantly being on with these children.