When Deepak Ramola first came across Saur in rural Uttarakhand, it was on Google; classified as a ‘ghost village’ due to excessive migration. A mere 12 families now make for what used to be a village of 200 families. Along with his organization Project FUEL and the aid of the 12 remaining families, Deepak turned the ‘ghost village’ into a living storybook, detailing the village’s rich culture and traditions along the walls of every house.
Titled ‘The Wise Wall Project’, each drawing was a documentation of a story or life lesson of a family in Saur. By July 2017, the project managed to give the village a whole new sense of life, giving the village attention for it’s new vigour rather than it’s ghost village status. Now, Project FUEL is taking it one step ahead — they’re hosting an entire festival at Saur! Focusing on a village experience that celebrates rural Uttarakhand’s people, their customs and more importantly, their stories, is the ‘Ghost Village Festival’.
“During our Wise Wall Project, an old man I interviewed talked about how his favourite memory till date had to be the village’s fair/mela. It was the village’s biggest source of livelihood and led to a major sense of bonding during the festival. That’s why we decided to revive this very festival!” said Deepak, on the story behind the festival. The festival will focus on a true village experience, allowing visitors to trek to beautiful hilltops, paint stories they’ve gathered themselves along a few walls in Saur, experience the Wise Wall Project, and attend food foraging workshops and pine needle jewellery workshops. A special ‘green salt’ workshop which takes attendees through the making of this rare regional condiment.
The festival will be held on 4 November and 5 November, with evenings filled with cultural performances and bonfires, as well as a look at how the kids in the villages themselves are progressing since Project FUEL organized a 6 month workshop for them, that is teaching them English and Computers. If we were you, we’d register as soon as possible — the event is limited to a 100 people.
For more information on the festival, click here. The deadline to register for the festival is October 10.
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