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Summer Vacation Activities in Rural India

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Meet Sanjay, Puja and a group of children from the Light of Life Trust, who tell us how children in India's villages enjoy their summer vacations.

SANJAY
"My final exams got over in the first week of April. My summer resolution was to learn swimming. I consider myself to be an amateur swimmer. My friend Ramesh is the best swimmer in our group and he has decided to teach me swimming and diving. Villages don't have swimming pools, so we learn to swim in tanks or in the sea. But we do take a lot of precautions. Just like you use rubber tubes or floats, we use dried pumpkins or special wooden logs. They are tied to our waist and this keeps us afloat in the water. In the summer, these tanks are usually full of children swimming and the pumpkins and wooden logs help amateur swimmers like me float on the water. Apart from this, I usually visit my maternal uncle's village, Malkapur. This place is famous for its Mariyamma Yatra. 'Yatra' means 'village fair'. The villagers gather at the Mariyamma Temple on the full moon night in the month of May and celebrate with festivities. The different joyrides and colourful stalls at the yatra make the entire experience quite magical. We also play cricket on the huge available empty grounds. We don't have regular gear and cricket outfits and our game is played with a regular cricket bat and tennis ball. But we love the game and have a lot of fun. The other sources of entertainment include playing in the rivers and open grounds. We don't go to summer camps, but the hills in our village have become destinations for summer camps for many urban children. Our summer holidays are not really hectic, but they have a bit of everything, from work to fun, games and trips."

PUJA
"I belong to the Khandas village in Karjat. My village is populated with tribals. When I say 'tribals' I mean people living in a simple way without any kind of machines and who are kind of primitive in their behaviour. These people, especially those living in the remote parts of the village, still follow ancient customs and rituals. My family, however, does not follow these customs. I study in class 8 and many of my friends from my village also attend the same school. We walk to school, which is about 8kms away from our village. But some of us do have bicycles, which were given to us under the Movement Scheme and we love riding them, even in our holidays. During our summer breaks, we often go to the nearby town of Karat to shop. We buy small items like ribbons and nail paints out of the money we have. Though our parents work very hard, they often don’t have enough money to buy us new clothes, even on festive occasions. But that really doesn't matter as we are happy with what we have. My two-month holiday is usually well planned. I spend one month helping my mother sell tamarind at the Karat market. The tamarind is collected during the summer season. The men in the family collect the tamarind from trees in the forests. The following day, the womenfolk cut the tamarind fruit and sell it to the shopkeepers in the village. My mother is quite an enterprising lady. She realised that the village shopkeeper sells the tamarind to city folks at double the price, so she decided to sell it in the city market itself and make more money. I am not very sure if city children help their parents in their business but helping your parents once in a while without sacrificing your education is a good thing to do.

The second part of the holidays is reserved for masti (fun). My friends and I do a lot of dhamal (fun) in our village, especially at the time of karvand collection. Karvand is a wild berry, especially available in the forests during the summer. The raw berry is collected to make pickle. The ripened fruit can be eaten as it is sweet. We eat a lot of berries and kairis (raw mangoes) in the holidays. These fruits are collected from the forests. We also organise our own dummy races like a bicycle race on the village grounds. I also spend some time watching TV. We have only one TV set in our lane of houses. In the evening, women watch some serials and during the day men watch cricket matches. We girls get very little time to watch our favourite cartoon channel and so many of us read. Our school library remains open during the summer holidays and I borrow one book every week. I wish we had comic books too, though I do read Chandamama, which is available in my school library. That's the way my summer is spent."

A LETTER TO ROBINAGERs
- From a group of students from Tiware village, Karjat, Maharashtra

"Hi to all our friends in India. It's a pleasure to share our vacation experiences with you. Like many of you, we
too go swimming and cycling and play ground sports like cricket, kabbadi and kho-kho. But more than all of
these activities put together, we enjoy wandering into the forest and attending the forest fairs organised at this time of the year. Dahiwali, a village very close to ours, holds a cultural fair every year and we attend that very religiously. We go on explorations too. Many of us go to the Kondhiwade caves on a full moon night in the month of April. This day is celebrated as Buddha Poornima. We also celebrate other village festivals like Shiv Jayanti and Ambedkar Jayanti. 

We usually have a fancy dress competition on these days and everyone enjoys it a lot. At times we also enjoy watching cartoon shows. Our favourite cartoon characters are Popeye and Tom and Jerry. We attend summer camps too, which are held by the Light of Life Trust. These camps teach us dramatic skills and how to use the computer and create handicrafts, rangoli and mehendi. These are unique treats for us as we would never have been exposed to such experiences otherwise. Our hobbies also include hill-climbing. The famous fort of Rajmachi is located near our village. The famous Bhimashankar Temple and Ekvira Temple are also located close by. We go there once in a while and visit the relatives of some of our friends who live there too. 

Catching fish in the rivers is another hobby many of us enjoy. We catch fish and crabs and our mothers cook them for our evening meals. Many of us have pets too. Some of us have domestic pigeons, others have dogs and cats and some have rabbits too. One boy even has a white mouse! Some of our other activities include collecting fruits like raw mangoes and berries. We also enjoy local games like pebbles, bhavara (top) and viti-dandu (gilli danda). Towards the end of our holidays, we welcome the first rain showers that cool everything down. We play in the wet mud and start thinking about the next academic year. With the arrival of the monsoons, our summer vacations also come to an end. Of course, the playing and the fun continue, but at a minimum level. 

All we have to say is that nothing is as enjoyable as the summer holidays."
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