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Archive for October, 2010

The beautiful hill station, and home of peace (Shantinikitan) Kanda is situated at 1500-1900m above sea level. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and terraced fields it captivates the sense and imaginations of the locals and visitors alike. Both the local people and the visitors appreciate the beauty here and benefit from the pure air and healthy environment that the mountain scenery presents. According to legends, and the older inhabitants, there once lived a local caste of Kanyal. Kanda is named after this caste. The hills of Kanda are very attractive to foreign visitors, and is often likened to the Swiss Alps.
From 1988 tourists of different nationalities have come to stay at the center for paying guests and ecotourism as volunteers. During their stay at Sonargaon , which can last from a few days to several months, visitors watch, join and enjoy community life. They also gain a good understanding and knowledge of Kumoani culture and way of life, and of the deep spiritual and religious beliefs, and so have a unique and enjoyable experience.
Visitors can learn about local food preparation techniques, which is done using specific spices and locally grown organic vegetables. Experiencing this local cuisine can be one of the highlights of life at Kanda!
In their leisure time, visitors enjoy the stunning natural environment. The sweet fragrance of local flowers, the deep chattering of beautiful birds and the colourful butterflies make life here deeply calming. This experience can give a new personal strength to visitors, and the peace and calm can provide an opportunity for the stresses and pressures of life to crumble away and give peace of mind with the deep effect of this intellectual meditation. Many visitors take advantage of this calm atmosphere by practicing yoga.
Visitors can explore on foot the area surrounding Sonargaon village and see the members of the local community carryout their daily tasks, and so gain an insight into this way of life.
Another wonderful experience to be gained by a visit to ROSE is learning about the religious aspects of community life. There are different religious events, some held in the temples and others in people’s homes. Events of religious significance include celebrating various Hindu deities such as the celebration of Ramayana, Bhagwatgita, and Shivachana (worship of lord Shiva), the religious speeches of the priest and the nine days of Nawabriti (where there is worship everyday). These rituals give meaning to peoples lives and also serve as entertainment. During their stay, visitors may observe various religious customs and traditions, such as marriage ceremonies, the naming ceremony of a baby, and Rakhi, the ceremony of sacred thread. Rakhi is an important ceremony where siblings tie thread around each other’s wrists, and by doing so, sisters are assured of their brother’s support and protection. There are many small and extraordinary religious events, including Jagar, the Kumoani folk songs, and the classical dance Chaachari, to name but a few. The women wear many different types of Jewelry, made from Gold and Silver, such as nose and ear studs/rings, necklaces, toes rings, anklets, and many colourful bangles on their wrists.
Kumoani people inherit a long tradition of culture and local environmental knowledge. They have a great understanding of the area, and are able to put the land to good use growing various different crops at different times of the year. They are also very skilled at animal husbandry, and many families own cows, buffalo, poultry and goats, as well as dogs and cats as pets. Creative knowledge regarding local arts and crafts is taught to the younger generations, and many are skilled in artistic pursuits such as dried flower decoration and painting special designs and patterns on the houses, which is called Alpana and Rangoli. Visitors are able to observe and participate in many of these activities and through this gain a deep understanding of the local heritage. If so inclined, visitors can use their time here to conduct detailed studies of local culture, mythology, architecture and artwork, and so students of many disciplines make good use of the opportunities for study here at Kanda.
Participation in the organic farming is enjoyed by many visitors at ROSE. Some people come here as part of the international Willing Work on Organic Farms scheme. Students of geography, biology, or those who are simply interested, can learn a great deal about local biodiversity and organic farming. ROSE operates many schemes to provide eco-friendly and sustainable energy, such as biogas for cooking that comes from cattle manure. Anyone with an interest in ecological issues, or anyone who has any ideas and proposals about sustainable development, will find plenty of scope to explore these ideas further here in Kanda.
While visitors stay here at ROSE, they can use their own personal skills to contribute to the community, and take on the role of eco/bio tourist. Ecotourists staying here are able to learn about the area while contributing to the host community, for example by teaching English, helping with construction projects, or with environmental projects such as reforestation. Through these activities ecotourists can satisfy their aims of sharing their skills with the community and positively contributing to the lives of the rural poor, whose environment and culture the tourists come to experience. Visitors can also spend some time learning Hindi and the local language Kumoani, can learn how to cook Kumoani food and mix the unique and medicinal herbs and spices, and learn about traditional farming and building technologies.

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