Marudam Mela, Tiruvannamalai

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The Marudam Farm School is an outstanding example of the kinds of contributions that Westerners are bringing to India. It is a small kindergarten and primary school for both Indian and Western children. Here is their welcome (and introduction to the school) from their website:

Marudam Farm School is located on an organic farm on the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, South of India. As a community we are committed to exploring what it means to live and learn together. This includes learning about ourselves, academic and life skill learning as well as trying to live sustainably, so that in this rapidly changing world, we may be able to meet the challenges of life with greater intelligence and sensitivity.

This sign announces the event. This is the third of these fairs. The first was in 2011. Here are some photos of the 2011 event.

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This bas relief is one the side of one of the buildings. I would guess that it was done by the kids (led by the teachers).

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Also on the buildings is this large-scale agricultural “fresco.”

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Schedule for events today.

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The grounds as we walked in.

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In the center there were cloth pandals laid on the ground to demarcate the “sitting-and-eating” area. Tables and stools–all kid-sized–were set out and being used.

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There were booths selling various items. This one had jam and pesto. Carol waited too long to buy the pesto, and they had sold out! I bought some papaya jam that was quite good.

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Table selling bags and such.

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And very popular, many tables with delicious food.

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To make the money handling secure, they has us buy special “Mela Credits” at Rs 1 per credit, and use these to pay for purchases.

Many yummy items are on the food menu.

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More people at a food table.

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For the kids, by far the most popular booth was the face painting booth.

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A girl is receiving her masterpiece now.

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Photos of painted faces. Chose the one you like.

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The face artists wore face painting too.

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This girl is getting a puppy face, while other kids watch.

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The other face artist at work. Such concentration!

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There was music, too. Upahar is playing the flute.

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Kids crowd around one of the tables. I think these are kids from another school.

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Carol and Padma, the mother of a Western woman married to a local man, eat and talk.

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Kids at a table, having a snack.

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The entertainment has started. Soon there will be a puppet show.

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There is a big crowd watching.

 

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The actors and their puppets are behind the screen.

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Kids watch intently.

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The show begins.

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I cannot tell what this creature is. It seems like a cross between a duck and an antlered deer.

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Sri Mani from Ramanasramam and his wife joined the crowd. Their children are far past the age where they would be in this kind of school, so they came to this as a community event.

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A tiger puppet is on stage.

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A boy with a great face painting job watches.

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More mela-goers. The boy in blue has a puppy face painted on.

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Behind the puppet stage.

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Another great paint job, a butterfly.

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Next on stage is a play.

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The kids act out their parts.

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Since the school is sponsored and organized by The Forest Way, they have a big sign up today.

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Here are some of what The Forest Way has done. Here is their website, if you want to know more.

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One thing they do is cut about 14 km of wide firebreaks on the hill each year, to keep fires from spreading.

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Art is a big element of the school. Here is a sculpture exhibit.

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Here is one of their pottery kilns. I love the fanciful hand that extends from it.

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Canvases were up and people invited to paint.

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I like this drawing, outlines of various-sized people.

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There were a number of paintings. I don’t know if these were student or teacher works. They each had different painter’s signatures. Here are three.

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A bullock carts heads off, giving some kids–big and small–a ride.

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Here is another statement from the web page of the Marudam Farm School:

Our hope is that an education at Marudam Farm School will help to bring about sensitive and intelligent human beings. Children will discover not only their interests and passions, but also nurture skills in both academic and non-academic areas that will help them meet any life challenges. We care for the land and use it as a rich educational resource, integral to the learning process.

Originating from different cultural and social backgrounds, we are a community of children and teachers from around the world. The richness of learning that comes with this diversity is a key element in the ethos of Marudam Farm School. As a group of adults we work cooperatively, without hierarchy or formal structure and find that working closely together in such an environment is both enjoyable and deeply rewarding.

I think these are grand ambitions for a school, anywhere in the world. I think they are doing what they set out to accomplish, and to do this in Tiruvannamalai, with a mix of Indian and Western children is just an outstanding accomplishment! I offer the school, its staff and founders my heartfelt congratulations.

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5 Responses to “Marudam Mela, Tiruvannamalai”

  1. Shan Velan Says:

    Middle of the 3 paintings is really beautiful.
    They are Jain art depicting Mahavir, Pashwanth and Neiminath with 2 Yakshi. It beautifully shows 3 umbrellas for mahavir which is called mookkudai. Thiruvannamalai also is a seat of ancient Thamizhl Samanars (Tamil Jains)

  2. tsb soma Says:

    Dear Richard,

    I am your fan and had really like your narration and photos.

    God bless

    Suresh Nidhi Babu

  3. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    Shouldn’t Tiru replace bullock carts with Camel Carts??(thanks to your previous post) 🙂

    Dear Richard and Carol

    Season’s greeting to both and many thanks for your regular treat

    Best Regards,
    RR

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Maybe, camel sure had a higher return. Maybe camels do not so as well here, outside the desert?

  4. rsrinivas56 Says:

    Dear Mr Richards
    your blog made a informative reading and I believe there is lot of open activity in the process of learning, where in the students and teachers can both learn in the process, I am sure since the atmosphere is rural the cost factor would also appeal to the locals.
    I am visiting again on jan14!, very excited once again and this time I am on a three days visit; one more chance to see you and learn about the school.

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