Just watching all the children interact with each other makes this program so satisfying. The celebration, combined with many children who do not always see each other, created a dynamic that I have not seen in other events. The children would play with each other, hold each other, feed each other and care deeply for one another one second and then hit, kick, smack, pull, and bully each other the next. This was a constant source of entertainment for me. One moment they could be loving with each other and the next moment crying and fighting with each other. The rough treatment between them was commonplace, as if it was normal and expected. I even speculated whether this roughness was somehow desired. Either way, no one ran to their parents or looked for protection.
Then it was time for the bandhara, or free feeding program. In Indian culture, bandharas are viewed as opportunities to serve each other's soul. Each person recognizes the blessing that they are receiving with this food. For this event, the children’s parents and older teenagers joined the village children in sharing food in celebration of the girls of India. Even for such a large program, there was ample support for cooking and serving all. The day started at 7:30 am and it took many hours to cook the food and then serve all those present, but everyone left satisfied and fed. The real gift for me was in the villager's allowing me to be a part of their lives for these few short hours. And from that, I have a memory that I will treasure always.