Yugaantar 2023

01 Oct 2023 to 02 Oct 2023

Yugaantar 2023

Resounding drums, rhythmic beats, men & women dressed up in vibrant attire, their faces painted, head gears, mango leaves wrapped around their body, moved gracefully in a spirited dance on the Prakriya school ground. Curious onlookers gathered around, with some eagerly joining the lively circle of Soligas. This captivating scene encapsulated the vibrant atmosphere of the Bhoomi-Yugaantar festival heralding the beginning of a two-day celebration on the 1st and 2nd of October.

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The day commenced with an inaugural ceremony during which we honoured these performers hailing from the Soligas community, an indigenous group, inhabiting the mountain ranges in Charmrajnagar and certain parts of Tamil Nadu. Soligas are notably, the first tribal community in India to reside in the core of a tiger reserve. Their enduring legal battle to secure their forest rights has been a landmark achievement.

We hosted a panel discussion featuring Yuvan Aves (Naturalist, Educator & Writer), Rishhad Kothawala (Sound Designer and Composer, Sustainability Enthusiast), Divya Vandal (Graphic Designer, Bhoomi Volunteer) and Seetha Ananthasivan (Founder Trustee of Bhoomi-Prakriya). Yuvan shared his inspiring journey, recounting how, at the age of 12, he decided that he wants to become an environmental activist and what it took for him to follow his passion and establish himself. Seetha, posted some thought-provoking questions to the panel and audience, encouraging us to reflect on the personal significance of sustainability in our lives.

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We also celebrated the book launch of ‘Education in Tune with Nature’ which beautifully encapsulates the fundamental ethos of Prakriya Green Wisdom School, emphasizing children’s heightened awareness of Nature's principles, climate change and sustainable living. During the launch, Sharon Lyngdoh (Prinicpal, Prakriya Green Wisdom School), Radha Ravi(Director, Prakriya Green Wisdom School), Ishita Bose(Facilitator, Bhoomi College), Yuvan Aves, and Seetha read out selected excerpts from the book for the audience.

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On both days, our event featured a rich assortment of workshops conducted in the morning and evening, with the intent of providing an experience of working with the head, heart, and hands. Some of the workshops include Hero’s Journey by Bhoomi Facilitators, Environmental Pollutants from Our Homes by Ankur Jamwal (Ecophysiologist, Azim Premji University), Understanding Soil by Soil Vasu, Reconnect with Herbs by Parvathy Nagarajan (Herbalist & Traditional Healer), Zero Waste Events: Why and How? by Kavya Sindhuja (Founder, EarthSitters), Water - Situation, Solutions and Positive Stories by Biome Trust, Windows to Mindful Eating by Santhilakshmy A (Educator & Author), Interactive Storytelling by Priya Muthukumar (Storipur). Some conversations included Green Economy Today: Indian Perspective by Ramasubramanian Oruganti (Founder, Samanvaya), Going back to Nature by Balachandra Hegde (Ecologist & Educator), Rethinking Modernity with Aseem Shrivastava (Ecological Economist), Kabhi Kabir Mere Dil Mein - Unveiling Self through Kabir's Wisdom by Ishita Bose & Adil Basha (Facilitators, Bhoomi College), Decolonising Climate Justice by Disha Ravi (Climate Change Activist). There were hands-on workshops like Insect Walks at Bhoomi by Yuvan Aves (Naturalist) & team, Nature Around Us - Learning to Connect by Vidya Ramesh (Educator, Azim Premji University), Paper Upcycling by Smitha V.K (Founder, Hasthakala Creations), Traditional Games by Immaculate Antony of Ima ReCreations, Weaving workshop by Suresh (Resident Weaver) and Pottery Workshop by Rukesh (Resident Potter).

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We also had a very special event of awarding the Bhoomi Senior Fellowship to two exemplary individuals, Aseem Shrivastava (Ecological Economist) and Balachandra Hegde (Ecologist and Educator). These Senior Fellows become integral to the Bhoomi community, collaborating with peers, like-minded scholars, activists, thought leaders, youth groups, and communities who share a common vision. Furthermore, Aseem Shrivastava delivered the plenary talk titled “The Alphabet of Ecosophy: Rethinking Modernity.”

In addition to workshops, we featured our annual ‘Seeds of Change – Microgrants’, providing young eco-entrepreneurs and change-makers a chance to pitch their sustainability and holistic education projects and an opportunity to win Rs. 25,000 microgrant. This year, we witnessed a diverse range of innovative concepts, such as reviving traditional foods, eco-community development, facilitating labourers to obtain Government labour cards, recycling used liquor bottles for terrariums, sustainable initiative podcast, the revival of local vegetables and fruits, project-based experiential nature programs, insect carving projects, etc. Participants' pitches were thoughtfully evaluated by our Wisdom Council, a group of seasoned experts who generously shared their knowledge, experiences, and insights to refine and enhance the ideas. This year's Wisdom Council included Ashik Krishnan (Travellers' University), Shristee Bajpai (Vikalp Sangam), Ravichandran (Prakriya facilitator), Sameer Shisodia (CEO - Rainmatter Foundation), and Adil Basha (Facilitator, Bhoomi College).

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As one participant expressed, "I've pitched my ideas at several 'Shark Tank'-like programs, and I've always felt threatened and disheartened due to the critical nature of the process. Bhoomi is the first place where I've felt safe. There's no tearing down of ideas or individuals; instead, they offer help and ideas to build a supportive community for each other's journeys. I am truly grateful for this opportunity."

We hosted a special programme called Chai-pe-Charcha, featuring discussions with individuals who have established avenues and spaces dedicated to sustainability, art, and culture. The panel included Bhavana Nagendra from Svadhyaya's Learning Space, Subodh Sankar of Atta Galatta, Sudeep Nair representing the Shoonya Center for Art and Somatic Practices, Nishant Kumar from Project DEFY, and Seetha Ananthasivan from Bhoomi. The conversation revolved around the possibility of alternative sector coming together to foster connections, and explore potential collaborations.

In the late evenings, we were treated to captivating musical concerts. On the first day, Vinay Varanasi, Vivek Sadasivam, Sindu Suchethan, and Adamya Ramanand enchanted us with music and stories that delved into the realms of sustainability and philosophy.

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The following day, we were serenaded by the melodious strains of Hindustani music, skilfully performed by Raghunandan Bhat, Shouri Shanbhog, and Vighnesh Bhagawat. As one participant eloquently expressed, "Sitting in the amphitheater beneath the open sky, surrounded by soft, ambient lighting and a community of like-minded souls, was an absolutely enchanting experience. I felt a profound connection to both the music and the environment."

In the lead-up to Yugaantar, we hosted a one-week immersive residential program open to individuals of all ages and backgrounds, including Bhoomi volunteers. Approximately 13 participants resided on the campus, delving into the Bhoomi way of life and contributing their support to the Yugaantar event.

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This year, we also had an array of stalls that had sale of handcrafted, chemical free products and fresh and organic farm produce, books, art,essential home needs, etc., 

In reflection, Yugaantar 2023 was a vibrant tapestry of sustainability, art, culture, and the relentless pursuit of a harmonious coexistence with our environment. With gratitude in our hearts and inspiration in our souls, we look forward to the continuation of this remarkable journey, where every step brings us closer to a world where nature, culture, and sustainability flourish in harmony.

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