Tag: festival

An image of a handmade gift from Nicaragua.
Sep 16 2017

‘Past today and into tomorrow’

Gaining perspective through a trip to Nicaragua

An image of a handmade gift from Nicaragua.

By Corie Rast, social media coordinator

Nearly every weekday for the past 13 months, I’ve driven to my job at Unbound in Kansas City, Kansas, sipping on coffee and cycling through my regular stress points:

“Ugh, I hope it’s not freezing in the office today.”

“Kinda bummed I only have these leftovers for lunch. I just have … too much food.”

“If this meeting doesn’t go exactly how I want it to go, I’m just going to lose it.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m lucky and thankful to have the job I do, but I also have a tendency to be kind of whiny and self-absorbed sometimes.

It’s for this exact reason that I jumped at the opportunity to tag along on an awareness trip to Nicaragua with Unbound. I’d been itching for a new adventure for months, and aside from trips to Canada and Mexico, I’d never traveled internationally before. (It’s a personal fact I held close to the vest working alongside some of the most well-traveled people I’ve ever met.)

More than the travel experience, I was ready to see our program in action. In my daily work, I have the chance to read about it, hear about it, even try to write pithy web copy about it, but it’s impossible to fully understand what we do without traveling to the field myself. I needed to see and hear the impact our program was having on staff, sponsors and sponsored members. An awareness trip was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

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Oct 27 2011

India celebrates Diwali, festival of lights

Diwali fireworksBy Sreekanth Gundoji, CFCA communications liaison in Hyderabad, India

Yesterday (Oct. 26) marked the major Hindu festival, Diwali. It is also celebrated today (Oct. 27) this year.

Diwali is the festival of lights. We decorate the home with lights and burn firecrackers.

Children celebrate the festival with joy and happiness. We also distribute candies to wish one another greetings and share happiness.

When we decorate the home with lights, the darkness will go away and we can see our surroundings. And burning the firecrackers and distributing the candies is a form of expressing the joy of victory over evil.

I like the festival very much. Since my childhood, I eagerly wait for the festival because on that day, we get new clothes, burn firecrackers, and get many candies to eat.

Aug 23 2011

Brotherly love: Raksha Bandhan festival in India

CFCA sponsored children during the Raksha Bandhan festival in India

Sai Teja, 12, right, a CFCA sponsored child in Hyderabad, India, accepts a rakhi from his sister, Sai Sushnitha, during the Raksha Bandhan festival.

Sreekanth Gundoji, our communications liaison in Hyderabad, India, sends us this report about an Indian festival, Raksha Bandhan.

The festival took place this year on Aug. 13.

Raksha Bandhan is a festival in India that celebrates the bond of affection between brothers and sisters.

On this day siblings pray for one another’s well-being and wish one another happiness and prosperity.

The name “Raksha Bandhan” means “a bond of protection.”

Brothers promise to protect their sisters from all harms and troubles, and the sisters pray to God to protect their brothers from all evil.

The festival is celebrated in the full moon day of Shravana masam (according to the Hindu calendar), which generally comes in August.

CFCA: Raksha Bandhan festival in India with rakhi

A closer view of the rakhi on Sai Teja’s wrist.

A sister will tie the thread called rakhi on their brother’s wrist, taking his blessing (if the brother is older, or if he is younger, the brother takes his sister’s blessing) and praying for his well-being, and the brother promises to take care of his sister.

The rakhi reminds the brother of his responsibility toward his sister and also for her care of him.

Brothers and sisters of all ages celebrate the festival. Most places in India celebrate it regardless of caste and religion.

Some families in other religions still mark the festival to bring happiness and peace to all.

Jan 27 2011

Bolivian festival of miniatures a big deal

Walk2gether arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, in time to celebrate Las Alasitas, a local festival with indigenous roots.

Bolivian miniatures
Bolivian miniatures in hand

Here are two Bolivian miniatures, gifts to some of our staff in International. They are about an inch tall and easily fit into the palm of your hand.

Henry Flores, director of CFCAís communication center in El Salvador, spoke by phone with Ruth Valderrama, La Paz project coordinator.

Ruth and the walkers were arriving at the hotel and she did not have much time, but she managed to provide this brief explanation of the tradition.

The Las Alasitas fair is a local tradition that usually starts on Jan. 24 and lasts for about three days. People from all over La Paz and nearby El Alto come to the fair.

The fair is celebrated only in La Paz at the fair center and on the main avenue of El Alto, very close, but higher in altitude, than La Paz.

During the fair, local artisans, mostly indigenous people, make miniatures symbolizing different material wishes people have for the upcoming year.

These wishes can be for a house, a car, etc. People buy a miniature of the item they wish to receive.

There are also miniatures for those looking for a match. Women who want to find the man of their dreams buy miniature roosters. Men looking for a woman buy miniature chickens.

This major cultural celebration has its origins in indigenous Andean traditions. In ancient times, people would present miniatures to Ekeko, a household god of abundance and prosperity.

Many families in the CFCA sponsorship program participate in this local cultural celebration.

To see pictures from the fair, see our Facebook photo album.

Jan 19 2011

Indian sponsored friends celebrate Makar Sankranti


Pratyusha, a CFCA sponsored child, draws a rangoli during Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival in India.

Information for this article was contributed by Sreekanth Gundoji, the communications liaison in Hyderabad.

Many parts of India, especially rural areas, celebrate a major harvest festival, Makar Sankranti, every Jan. 13-16. The festival is tied to the lunar calendar.

Day one: Bhogi

On Bhogi, people burn old items to symbolize getting rid of the old to make way for the new.

Family members gather in the backyard of their house, collect useless furniture and wooden sticks and start the fire.

Afterward people wash their heads and wear fresh clothing. Women also make special dishes for the festival.

In the evening, many families, infants and children are showered with fruit called “regi pandlu” (jujube fruit) to protect them from evil.

Day two: Pedda Panduga

On this day, women and girls make colorful drawings, or “rangoli,” in front of their homes. Children also fly kites.

Rangoli competitions

Mothers take part in the rangoli competitions.

“Since the people living in slums do not have proper place to draw the rangoli, CFCA invited the sponsored members and their families to a common place, where the mothers gathered for rangoli competitions and to participate in song and dance competitions,” says Shilpa Indrakanti, a Hyderabad project staff member. “The participants were awarded accordingly. The children were given kites and gifts along with a tasty lunch.”

Pratyusha, 13, helps her mother by cooking paramannam, one of the festival dishes.

“I like this festival because this is the festival of rangoli,” Pratyusha said. “My mother will draw the outlines of the rangoli and I will do the coloring of it and while cooking paramannam, I cut the jaggery (a sweet food made from sugarcane) to help my mother.”

Day three: Kanuma

For Kanuma, people, especially in rural areas, decorate and feed cows, bulls and other animals important to the agrarian economy and rural culture.

Many farmers will cook and eat food in the fields. Most of the food is non-vegetarian and made from mutton and chicken.



Chandrakanth, 10, said he eats chicken curry cooked by his mother.

Sponsored members in CFCA’s Hyderabad project represent the religions of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. They are invited to join in celebrating festivals of all three faiths. One of these is Makar Sankranti.

“We organize common recreation and fun activities with singing, dancing and cultural activities as well as writing competitions, quizzing, indoor and outdoor games and other group activities,” said Suresh Singareddy, Hyderabad project coordinator. “The children usually participate enthusiastically in all the events.”

Sep 20 2010

Colombia’s Feria de las Flores (Fair of the Flowers)

The Feria de las Flores, or Fair of the Flowers, takes place in Medellin, Colombia, every year. Tr·nsito Hern·ndez, coordinator of the Antioquia project in Colombia, writes about this yearís fair, which took place in August.

2010 Feria de las Flores

Colombia celebrates its 53rd Feria de las Flores, or Fair of the Flowers, in 2010.

“This year we celebrated the 53rd version of the Fair of the Flowers. This fair constitutes one of the most important cultural events in Colombia. … This is an event that unites all the people of Antioquia and many national and foreign tourists who visit the city of Medellin. The city decorates itself for approximately 10 days to enjoy the flowers and a diverse number of recreational, cultural and fun events, which gain in importance year after year.

“Ö Our sponsored children have also participated in a very special manner in the competitions of dance and have won first place. They have also participated in the festival of martial music bands. This year the band from one subproject won the fourth spot in the competition among more than 34 other bands that competed.

“The children are full of hope when they participate and feel very proud of representing CFCA in events as important as this one. From their institutions of education, they also participate in many cultural events of the fair.

“Other forms in which some of our CFCA families participate actively are with stalls for selling different kinds of food and drink. They go out in the streets enjoying the events and the crowd selling water, juices or fast food, generating extra money for the family. Some mothers are hired by restaurants and businesses which attract large crowds and need more employees, even though it is just temporary. It is very clear that the festivities significantly help the economy and many of our families take advantage of these events to make an extra peso.î

Click here to see a Facebook photo album of the flowers, as well as other events from the fair.

Dec 12 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe has deep meaning in lives of sponsored members

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, celebrating Maryís apparition to an indigenous man, Juan Diego. This important Mexican holiday represents Godís deep and intimate love for the poor. Mary and Jesus walk with the poor through Juan Diego, calling him by name and recognizing his dignity and the dignity of the Mexican people, who had just been conquered by Spain.

Matilde Mendoza, a CFCA staff member from the town of Villa Garcia, in the state of Nuevo Leon, summed up the importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to CFCAís sponsored members.

ìThe words of Mary to Juan Diego are the words that CFCA has contemplated: ëAm I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?í

ìMary comes and gives hope, returning the dignity of the people, uniting the cultures. Everyone receives her love. This is CFCA for our sponsored people, making present the words of Mary in their realities.î

The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe
The morning of Dec. 9, 1531, Juan Diego was walking near the Hill of Tepeyac when he had a vision of the Virgin Mary. In his native language of Nahualt, she instructed that a church be built at the site. Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian, relayed the request to Mexicoís first bishop, Juan de Zumarraga. When the Spanish bishop demanded proof of this vision, Juan Diego returned to the hill Dec. 12. Mary once again appeared to him and told him to collect some roses from the top of the usually barren and desolate hill.

He gathered the roses in his cloak and returned to the bishop. As the roses tumbled to the floor, an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was emblazoned upon his cloak. Here was the proof Bishop Zumarraga needed, and he approved the construction of the church.

Today, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located north of Mexico City, and 477 years after her appearance Maryís image is still visible on Juan Diegoís cloak, which hangs in the basilica.

ourladyguadalupeCelebration in Villa de Garcia
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated from Dec. 3-12. The forms of venerating and celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe vary according to region, neighborhood, church, city and state.

In Villa de Garcia, home to 270 CFCA sponsored members, Mass is celebrated every afternoon followed by pilgrimages and lectures about Mary or performances portraying the encounters between her and Juan Diego.

Pilgrimages through Villa de Garcia
The pilgrimages weave through Villa de Garcia so that the largest number of people can participate. The Matlachines, indigenous dancers in traditional clothing, lead the pilgrimage by dancing and beating the drum. The people follow and, from time to time, sing and pray.

Serenading the Virgin
On Dec. 11, the pilgrimages end at midnight with mariachi performers serenading the Virgin, and on Dec. 12, after the Mass, people gather†at a big festival†for fellowship and to honor the Lady of Guadalupe.