Rewananda is a free art school for local children of Maheshwar. For years our mission has been to make a change in a child’s life, for better. We aim to achieve this through providing a safe space to share arts, music, yoga and practical knowledge, the subjects which often aren’t available in state schools.
Not all children in India have the same access and possibilities when it comes to education. Maheshwar, as many other towns in India, also witnesses these financially hassled families, struggling to send their children for higher (and often even basic) education. Children restrain from pursuing education, staying home, working on fields and getting married at an early age to continue the tradition of leading a simple life (with very little money), taking care of a multiple generation family.
The truth is that every journey begins where we are. It cannot begin where we are not. We might not bring a 180 degree twist in all children’s lives, improve all their surroundings or take them away from their financially struggling, but loving, families. However, what we certainly can do, and have already been doing, is to enrich these children’s lives through creativity (music, dance, arts) and spiritual awareness (traditional yoga and meditation). Creativity opens up the door to possibilities, brings more colours to our daily activities, teaches us to be the creators, instead of followers and inspires us to explore what more is there in life.
Rewananda was established in 2016 by Sangita Lakhanpal, a yoga teacher and a spiritual artist and Kapil Shri, a karma yogi and a meditation teacher. (Learn more about Sangita and Kapil).
School activities, current and past classes
Rewananda has been offering a wide range of classes for the local children (mainly girls and young women) throughout the past years. The art classes are typically run between 4 and 6pm on a daily basis and are often of a one subject/skillset-focused character. The classes are taught by local school teachers, local artists or volunteers experienced in the specific topic/field. Since 2016, the children have attended classes such as music and dance, where they learned to chant mantras, dance a choreography for specific events or perform mantras through a movement. They learned to sing traditional Indian and spiritual songs with a music teacher accompanied by musical instruments, i.e. harmonium, tabla, flute… Lately, girls have been learning all about macramé art, a class run by a local lady skilled in this art.
Girls also have the opportunity to join daily morning yoga classes, held at 6am in the ashram. These classes are based on traditional, ancient hatha yoga scriptures, with the emphasis on the woman’s body. The subtle bodies, mind and spirit are then exercised through pranayama and meditation session, as a part of the daily yoga class.
Apart from the regular daily classes, we also host educational talks and discussions by an expert or a knowledgeable person in the field. These are one off events and happen sporadically, but always benefit us all. These can be talks on the preservation of our environment or more general, useful knowledge such as healthy diet advice or health and cleanliness advice in such.
Environmental awareness - 'Green Valleys of Rewa' Project
In Rewananda we believe in the power of nature, respect the Mother Earth and feel the gratitude and the connection with the source of the ultimate energy. This is something we strongly believe should be shared with and passed onto the new generation. Kapil Shri initiates the environmental awareness events for children, educates them about the importance of the river water cleanliness and effects of deforestation. Every rainy season, children and Kapil spend days preparing tree seeds to be planted in the local area when the rain finally comes. This even became popular in recent years within the community, and it was an inspiration for the birth of a project 'Green Valleys of Rewa', which everyone loves and enjoys.
Project 'Green Valleys of Rewa'
"The project 'Green Valleys of Rewa' has more importance today than ever before. Our ancestors used to live simply and were connected with nature. They lived in houses built from natural materials and surrounded by greenery. We however, started to extract the woods, cut down the jungles, and we created farms. Nowadays, we are destroying the farms and building houses. This constructions require sand and stones, which we are mining from rivers and from the soil. If we continue at this pace, one day the whole Earth will be covered with concrete. Then, when water comes, it will all be drained to the oceans through the rivers and drainage lines. This will effect the Mother Earth, she will become thirsty. Another cause of an imbalanced underground water level are earthquakes. This is the time to become aware and plant as many trees as we can. The trees have one amazing ability - an ability to feed water to the earth through their roots. This helps maintaining healthy soil and underground water levels." - Kapil Shri, June 2020, a preparation event for a yearly 'Green Valleys of Rewa' Project.
The project got its shape in 2018, but it was born 25 years ago, when Kapil planted a first tree with his grandmother, in their home town of Maheshwar. Since then, he continued this tradition, and he has planted over four thousand trees in the area since. He has been initiating the same event every year, now with the children and other members from Rewananda NGO, under the name 'Green Valleys of Rewa'. In Rewananda, we encourage all the people, regardless of their location, to plan a tree nearby and make their best to make sure it survives, and thrives.
Often in life it is not about what we have, but who we have around us. In Rewananda we realise the power of a strong, supportive community and that feeling which bellonging to ‘a tribe’ gives you. We have been aiming to translate this into the teachings we share with the children of the school.
Our community and social surroundings have a massive impact on our health and wellbeing. Inclusion, rather than exclusion, understanding rather than comparing, celebrating rather than segregating are our mottos.
In Rewananda, by awakening the spirit of creativity in a child, we bring these qualities up, feeding back into the community. The change starts with an individual.
Rewananda has organised multiple events bringing together the community, sharing, celebrating and teaching.
The latest activities of the Rewananda free art school can be found in the 'What's New' section of the website.