Incense, Jasmine, Bricks and Crowbars: Breaking Ground in Melrosapurnam, India!

Incense, Jasmine, Bricks and Crowbars: Breaking Ground in Melrosapurnam, India!

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Jun 26, 2013
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On June 19th a ceremony was held to mark the start of the expansion project at the CSI High School in Melrosapurnam. This ceremony (called Bhumi Puja in India) is a traditional ritual of asking mother earth – Bhumi - for her blessings before the start of construction.

Project Architect Poonam Mulchandani relates elements of the Bhumi Puja ceremony, as held for the school.

Nine bricks representing the nine planets are placed in a pit, usually made in the northeast corner of the future building.

The project’s head mason (multi-tasking as the priest) washes and marks the chosen bricks with vermillion and turmeric. A spade, trowel and crowbar complete the assortment that symbolizes the making of a building. Representatives from Ford India (one of the project’s sponsors and local partners) each place a brick into the pit and the headmaster, teachers and 10th graders grace the event by singing a few prayers.

The smell of fresh jasmine flowers, burning incense and camphor imbue all present with a spirit of hope that this day will lead them into a blossoming construction phase!

Project Background

The project, sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund, and Ford India and the Global Giving Foundation, seeks to expand the school’s existing facilities to provide 11th and 12th grade classes for the first time. Previously senior students needed to be able to travel 6km on a public bus that ran once every three hours in order to attend the last two years of school; a barrier that inevitably led to very few students graduating secondary school. The new project aims to renovate existing structures as well as provide two new classrooms, a science lab, outdoor spaces for learning and play to create more equal opportunities for all young men and women of Melrosapurnam to access education.

For more continued updates, as well as more information about the project, visit the project's webpage.

Blessing the 9 selected bricks

The head mason lays the 9th and final brick

The ceremony continues

Student representatives from the 10th grade: the students who, thanks to this project, will be able to finish high school in Melrosapurnam for the first time.