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Education

Didi Maa Ritambhara Visits Newtown

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While traveling through America to share discourses, Didi Maa Ritambhara, a spiritual leader in India, stopped in Newtown for 24 hours, between July 30 and July 31. During her brief stay, she was surrounded by familiar faces.

This was Didi Maa’s second visit to Newtown since a Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) relationship was established in 2017 with Vatsalya Gram — an organization in India that provides homes for women in need, families for orphans, and vocational and life-training skills for women, along with offering three schools, according to its website, vatsalyagram.org. Didi Maa also visited Newtown before the relationship was established.

After Newtown High School educators and NICE leaders traveled to Vatsalya Gram in 2017 with resident Reena Sahani, the Board of Education heard from the travelers about the trip in October of that year. That report paved the way for the approval of NICE student trips to India. Since then, two groups of Newtown students have visited Vatsalya Gram.

While in Newtown, Didi Maa visited with Ms Sahani’s family. In the late afternoon of July 30, seated in a sitting room, Didi Maa was surrounded by some of the educators who visited India in 2017 and others. She sat in the middle of a group, shoulder to shoulder, sharing memories and smiles.

When asked — with Ms Sahani acting as a translator — why she keeps returning to visit Newtown, Didi Maa said “unconditional love.”

The two communities, Didi Maa reflected, have “such a beautiful relationship.”

Relationships like the one between Newtown and India, she shared, reduce “boundaries between human beings.” Through children learning together, the “future will become one world, one family.”

Now that Newtown students have traveled to Vatsalya Gram twice, Didi Maa said meeting students through NICE has exposed students at Vatsalya Gram to seeing different types of relationships between educators and students. The level of accessibility is different, she said.

Didi Maa travels extensively, and she said gatherings she attends are typically always with people from India. In Newtown, she is surrounded by more people from another culture, and she said that is a treasure. Later, she said the more people are exposed to different cultures, the more preconceived notions are challenged. Humans are wicks burning in different candles; No matter the type of lamp, the flame is the same, she expressed while referencing a poem she wrote about candles that explores being one family of Mother Earth.

Didi Maa also said, “I’m dedicated to little children and women.” Feminine energy is a gift that can be used toward world betterment through strength, power, and compassion.

When asked what she most wants Newtown residents to know, Didi Maa said her “biggest message” is that while people may not be relatives by blood, everyone can still get along by opening to the idea of striving to be better. Humans have more similarities than differences, and Newtown’s relationship with Vatsalya Gram highlights that attribute.

More information about NICE is available on its website, nicenewtown.wixsite.com, and more information about Vatsalya Gram is available on its website, vatsalyagram.org.

Didi Maa Ritambhara, a spiritual leader in India, second from right in front, was surrounded by friends on July 30 during a visit to Newtown. Standing in the back are Newtown High School educators Ryan Eberts, left, and Susan McConnell. Standing in front, from left, are resident Reena Sahani, NHS Principal Dr Kimberly Longobucco, and NHS educator Tim DeJulio. —Bee Photo, Hallabeck
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