Urban Ashram natural building workshop

Feb 2014

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Location: Pune , India

First time we organized our 2 day weekend workshops on introduction to community oriented natural building . Participants , friends plus few family  members together we started to build a open air kitchen which has a wood fueled oven, “chulha” traditional stove, zen garden and a cob partition wall.

The morning started with a dance of the dream, peering into each others eyes while moving in a circle holding hands and tapping our feet to “kumbalawe”. We then continued with the earth game , where we  subtly introduce the element earth to the participants in a playful manner. We asked the mud ” How do you feel ?”

We had a session of how to test mud and what is it that makes the mixture. Post which we started to build the oven and the cob wall respectively each week. Thats the time when  we started to dig, sieve, stomp and started feeling weary. The work mainly covered two styles of construction cob and earth bags.An earthbag base which connected with the oven and then later extended into a small seating. We got two traditional cooked “chulha”  from kumbhaar wada ( potters community in old pune )to be inserted into this base. In the zen garden we made a similar earthbag seating along with a cob partition wall. The day continued with the water game , after no water consumption afternoon we had a deep chanting of “sheema” and offered solar charged water .This game was followed by a deep discussion about bioclimatic / climate responsive natural building.

The second day of the workshop started again to the beats of michael jackson  and dance of the elephant. We then continued to cob plaster the earth bag and positioning the chulha. The air game was a series of breathing lessons and laughter yoga ( natural way of doing pranayama) which was facilitated by Khushmita . Lunch was traditional style maharashtrian food , zunka bhaakar with onions and taak. Afternoon we kept ourselves mixing more cob and making ladoos of them and tossing them to each other to continue the cob partition wall.

We had a beautiful closing session with “agnihotra” the fire element ritual , an offering to the god of transformation Shiva. Also we had a heart element , where we had a deep sharing sessions and the dance of the heart. The space was also opened to dariya dil dukaan, shop of the open hearted where people offered gifts from their heart to each other.

Post the workshop the work was continued by both of us plus some friends. We continued inserting colourful glass bottles , making openings, sculpting, doing mosaic and making multiple layers of natural plaster.

The two day intensive program was an effort to reach out to the city dwellers to experience conventional way of life which  many of us are not part of anymore. Yoga, element games, cooperative games, circular dances, traditional food and hands on all blend together shows us how to make life fun under the sun

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