Volunteering in Viswadarsanam, kerala.India- a special experience

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July 11th 2006
Published: July 11th 2006
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Written by elly, an exvolunteer at viswadarsanam.
Why was I first attracted to becoming a volunteer at Viswadarsanam? Was it because I had just broken up with a long-term partner? Was it because I believed there must be a life that wasn’t centred around the acquisition of material goods? Or was it that I wanted to try something different? The truth is that it was all of those and more. I had a deep longing for something more organic and spiritual to fill the void that had been increasing inside me for some time.

But the reality exceeded all expectations. The centre is a lush green paradise in the centre of what seems to be thousands of acres of rubber plantation. Indeed, when Umesh Babu and his family first acquired the land, it too was planted with rubber, which was gradually replaced by indigenous species and medicinal plants as Umesh’s dream started on its journey to fruition. Coconut palms sway gently in the breeze, fresh pineapple and lemons grow in the garden and exotic plants and flowers fill the place with colour and variety.

The life at Viswadarsanam is a simple one, consisting of carrying out a multitude of tasks from writing letters and sending emails, through planting seedlings and watering them, to occasional manual labour such as helping with construction projects. The food is lovingly prepared from fresh ingredients by Umesh’s wife, Janee, and is totally delicious. Accommodation is basic, but there is running water and flushing toilet now. When I first visited, the water had to be drawn from the spring-fed well for all tasks.

Every morning, the music from the nearby temple greets the dawn and you are reminded that the spiritual needs of the people are much more prominent in India that they are in the west. There is music wherever you go, from poppy Hindi film songs to devotional music - a kind of a soundtrack to your life in India.

Umesh is very happy to organize excursions and treks into the surrounding beauty of Kerala - nearby are the famous backwaters, the high ranges, tea plantations and gorgeous beaches. All tours are organized and carried out with the trademark enthusiasm and thoroughness of the Babu family, who are intent on creating an experience which is essentially an Indian one rather than the normal luxury coach plastic tour usually afforded to foreign tourists.

The steady stream of volunteers from all over the world can do as much or as little as they wish - there are plenty of opportunities to take part in yoga sessions, have ayurvedic massage and attend festivals. The volunteers I have met all see their experience at the centre as rewarding, enlightening and rejuvenating. For me, I changed in one month from being a tired, cynical cog in the wheel of a materialist society to feeling alive and being happy with the smallest things in life such as a beautiful sunset or a thriving newly planted seedling. In fact I must have changed a lot, as my work colleagues hardly recognized me when I returning to the workplace!

May the centre continue to thrive and demonstrate that living a simple natural life is full of beauty and fulfillment!

viswadarsanam have a website now its viswadarsanam.free.fr
and their email is viswadarsanam@yahoo.com


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