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Village tour in Auroville

 

On Thursday 19th April 2007, a tour through Auroville for village women from Edayanchavady was conducted from Thamarai. This activity was initiated, prepared and organized by Connie, a student and volunteer from Holland who has been with Thamarai since before we opened last November.

The purpose behind this activity was to provide an opportunity for the women from the village to learn more about Auroville and why it is as it is and to experience Matrimandir. This activity was at the heart of our interest to deepen bridges of understanding between Auroville and the villages.

Contact was made and invitation extended through the women's groups and 18 women – our maximum due to transport – were eager to participate. The week before the tour was conducted, A film on Auroville produced by Indian Doordorshan TV was screened so that the women would have some background information.

 

By the time everyone arrived (up to an hour late!) the group took off at 9.30am from Thamarai. The women were dressed in their best sari's and the atmosphere was excited and anticipatory. We went by electric vehicles called “Bijlee's” to the visitors centre where we viewed the exhibition on Auroville and a short film on Matrimandir, all in Tamil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After tea we took off again in the Bijlees up to Matrimandir. Shiva, our guide, spent over an hour and a half with the group, explaining special features about the Matrimandir and why it is so special to Auroville. The group walked around the amphitheatre and were very happy to be given a chance to sit in silent meditation inside one of the petals (peace) and look inside another one of the petals. When they came out of the petal, their eyes were shining and they were very thankful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the tour at Matrimandir, the group walked to Bharat Nivas (the pavilion of Indian Culture) and Harini spoke for a half an hour to the group about Auroville, explaining why Auroville exists and what Auroville is doing especially focusing on the outreach work with the villagers. It was a time for questions and answers

Mostly women expressed their surprise and joy to discover Auroville, especially the spiritual aspect and were obviously moved and grateful. Some commented that even though they have lived all their lives here, they didn't know what Auroville was really about.

I sensed they were also touched to be treated with respect and welcomed as special guests. Many also expressed that they would like their sisters and friends to have this experience and many wanted to visit the ashram in Pondy and learn more about Mother and Sri Aurobindo

 

After the interaction, we shared lunch at Indus Valley restaurant – a restaurant that serves a simple North Indian meal on a donation basis. The concept behind this "gift economy experiment" was explained by one of the people who are responsible for the restaurant. The group was driven back to Thamarai after lunch and again the vehicles met them at 3.30pm (this time they were all on time!) to bring them back to Matrimandir so they would have the opportunity to sit inside the inner chamber. For most it was the first time they had seen inside Matrimandir and this was clearly the highlight of the day. This picture was taken after they had spent 10 minutes inside the inner chamber.

 

 

We promised to make this a regular program once a month, open to anyone who wants to come from the village as a way to continue to build bridges of understanding between Auroville and the villagers

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