Asirvadh Ashram

During most of our time in south India, we stayed at the Asirvadh Ashram, a children’s home Suhail’s aunt, Jeyanthi, started in 1994. The ashram is located oustide of Thiruvallur, about an hour from Chennai. This area is quite rural, but developing rapidly.

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Jeyanthi passed away several years ago and one of her sisters, Griselda, ran the ashram until her own death four years ago. Since then, there has not been a family member on-site full time. Suhail’s mother tries her best to run things from Chicago, but it has not been easy. She has been traveling there at least once a year for a month or longer since then. She planned a visit to coordinate with ours, and also used the time to try and better secure the ashram’s future.

Some of the boys (and Bhavani, the tomboy)

There are currently about 30 children living at the ashram. Many of them have one or both parents living, but unable to support their family. While adjusting to having 30 children around (when we are used to zero!) took a bit of getting used to, we loved our time at the ashram. As you will see from the photos and video we took, the kids are cute and quite entertaining!

The Arpudum family provides on-site management and were wonderful hosts to us while we were there. Not only did Poongothai, the matriarch of the family, bring us hot chai every morning the minute we woke up, she cooked us delicious meals and crowned me with a garland of jasmine flowers each morning. In traditional Indian culture, women should always be adorned with gold jewelery (lots of it) and wear flowers in their hair. Being the rather simple person I am, you can imagine the project I presented for Poongothai!

my typical south Indian look

Of course, being the dog lovers we are, we also fell in love with several of the resident pooches. We had the biggest soft spot for Shraya, the smallest, most pathetic looking dog. She also seemed to be the smartest – the only one who sat and gave paw on command!

Bhavani & Anbarasi with Shreya

These children have few material things, but a lot of joy. We tried to do some fun things for them while we were there, which we all thoroughly enjoyed (more posts to come on all that). If you are interested in learning more about the ashram or making a donation, click here or contact Suhail or me.

The boys' mother brought them new clothes for Diwali

Satish, class clown

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