Asha Niketan

13 February 2005

We got up early (5:00!) this morning to attend 6 o’clock Mass at the mother house, just a few minutes from our hotel. All of the Sisters were at the Mass, as well as volunteers who would be doing the morning shift at any of the homes run by the Missionaries of Charity. Some of us will also be attending this Mass on Tuesday when we work at Nirmal Hiraday.

After taking breakfast at the hotel, we went on to Asha Niketan, which takes care of mentally handicapped people. There we took part in a puja, a Hindu festival which is dedicated to Sariswati, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge.

The alter dedicated to Sariswati

Asha Niketan is run by L’Arche, an organisation originally started by Jean Vanier in a rural village in France. Since then it has spread to 119 communities in 30 countries around the world. The community in Kolkata was started in 1973 and at present takes care of 47 mentally handicapped people.

Chris at Asha Niketan

Playing the drums

The meditation room in Asha Niketan is unique as it tries to show that God expresses himself in many forms, and that the aim of all religions is to go beyond the form. It does this by displaying seven different holy books that are rotated daily, thus constantly changing the focus religion and awarding none a superior or inferior status.

Whilst there is a lot of theological debate about God, members of the house feel that all these discussions are not relevant when looking at a handicapped child. The unique gift of the so-called mentally retarded person is that they urge us to join in the love of God, whatever our religion.

The meditation room

We are now off to prepare for dinner with Steve Waugh. Mixing with the stars again!

Smiling Person


jan ridley

@ 5147 days ago

Another moving report and stunning photos. The many exceptional people that you have all met on this trip will have a lasting effect on your lives. Many thanks to Mrs Weldon for organisining such a spiritual journey.
Love from Mum,Dad and Emma


@ 5147 days ago

stunning photos, more of the rest of the group too please

Steve Ridley

@ 5147 days ago

Dinner with Steve Waugh!!! so jealous!!! did someone explain cricket properly to Declan, because i never felt he understood when i told him. YOu all seem to be having an incredible time, i hope that doesn't change for the rest of your journey. Steve

mum and paige

@ 5147 days ago

hello ange and everyone.
brilliant diary, can't wait to see you and hear all about it! Thats got to beat 'my time in oxford, new york, ham house and syon park'!!! hehe. love you mum and paige xxx

The Sheridans

@ 5147 days ago

Hello Tom! these pictures are amazing, it's so great that we get to see all of the fantastic work your doing, we're all missing you, 9.30 mass isn't the same without you! Steve Waugh eh? impressive (whose Steve Waugh?) seriously though you should be so proud of yourself, it has truly been a journey of a lifetime, have a great last few days, i hope you have a safe journey back home (i'll have to update you on all that is happenning on the o.c, i know how u love it!) Katherine x

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