Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Celebration of Shakti?

Gadchandur is a vibrant, colorful town, with festivals having a special place in it's heart. With Navratras starting, the smells and sounds of celebration fill the air and you can almost taste the fervor. The pictures above, and below show the many mesmerizing and magical devis in town. 

As a festival that celebrates the feminine force or 'shakti', it is a little weird that it excludes women experiencing their monthly period from doing anything holy in this duration and this causes considerable distress, anguish, and sometimes almost the feeling of being cursed; in the affected. 

In fact, so many cultural beliefs and practices are related with the, 'flow' that a discussion could become a book!! From menstrual huts, to untouchability, and from having to sleep on the floor, away from the family, to not taking part in any 'holy' celebrations, the sanctions range from the weird to the erratic. Some say food goes bad, if touched by an 'impure' woman, and others say puja becomes meaningless if attended by her. Infact, in an interesting practice in Orissa, there is a festival, called Raja Parva, celebrated by girls, which is observed for three consecutive days from the day preceding Mithuna Sankrati, during which Mother Earth is supposed to be in her menstrual period!! It is a fertility rite, where girls pray to Mother Earth for their welfare.

The systematic use of religion to subjugate women, while worshiping 'shakti' sounds like the plan of a scheming mind! However, this is one thing that has been common across religions, regions, and cultures!!

 Not intending this to be a discourse on religion and gender, here's wishing everyone a happy and blessed pujo or puja, and a prosperous navaratri, and blessings & Shakti from the divine force herself.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making Maya Cry!

Well, it is very rare for me to upload external content in our conversations, but I recently came across this by the World Bank, which stole my heart. The little Maya, whose first cry is very important, lies at the center of all our efforts in the direction of Reproductive & Child Health, no matter which tribe or which village we work with, and I found the concept beautiful.

Make sure that you take a look and I am sure you'll agree that it is totally worth it, 'To Make Maya Cry'!!   This is the link to the Maya Story  And here's the World Bank blog on Maya and beyond!

Hope you'll find it touching and interesting!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Many Glasses, Many Colors

Ever tried looking at the sun through a colored glass, wondering why the sun smiled a colored smile, in the same color you chose to paint it in? 

Realities around us, much like the colored sun, reflect the color we want to see them in. 

Approach a community with feelings of 'superiority' and you'll make yourself feel like an out caste. Try to 'improve' the health care delivery and its utilization, without knowing the reasons for its abysmal conditions, and you'll waste time, money, and energy, and gain nothing. Much like some of the policy steps of the state machinery that have fallen flat on their face. 

Want to see the sun in its naked glory? Remember that there are layers of color, shielding it from sight. Acknowledge the glass, unravel it rather, and bask in the sunlight. 

Much has been said about the role of the, 'community' in healthcare, as the central character, the foundation, the life source of all progress, for its members. But do we even understand what a community is? Layer upon layer of varying colors and diverse contexts that envelop and project the white of the core as an eclectic mix of hue and color, in harmonies and contrasts. 

Community-based work, or community-based action, must first concentrate on respecting these layers of hues, and then trying to approach the core, albeit with much caution, to make sure it basks in the light, but doesn't burn its hands. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Hiatus..and some mixed feelings

I've been away for some time. A deep personal wound-the passing away of one of my favoritest people in the world, has been like a rude awakening from my zombie state of typing reports and making presentations. I am beginning to value life more, and to also appreciate the presence of those in my life, 'who care'. 

The news from Gadchandur this week, is kind of like a mixed bag. 

A 'could have been' mother lost her life in childbirth in an extremely well renowned private institution of Chandrapur, as her bladder was incised and nothing apparently done about it, during a routine 'C' section. The baby survived and is healthy. 

In this same week, a baby girl was saved by the combined efforts of the Nurse, the Sakhi, the Sakhi supervisor, and the Anganwadi Tai; even after having been born 'bums-first' and being unconscious for a few seconds after birth.

The cycle of life continues. 

On a slightly more disturbing note, last week, I came to know that the 108 ambulance that came to rush my grandmother to the hospital, had no oxygen available. Also, that the doctor who came to attend to her, a B.A.M.S, gave her an injection and left.  She succumbed to a massive heart attack. I would like to know what that injectable drug was. I would also like to meet the people who entered into the 108 Public-Private Partnership for the state of Punjab, and selected the ambulances and the equipment for them. Who sends an ambulance to a cardiac patient without a paramedic and an oxygen cylinder?

In this country, if you fall sick, it is imperative that you have at least one 'doctor' in the family, who is by your side, to decipher 'healthcare' for you and to save you from, the world of 'medicine'.