Healing Japan And The World Through Yoga, She Is Creating A Better Future For Poor Kids In India
October 20th, 2018 / 8:57 PM
When a young Nupur expressed her keen desire to pursue higher studies at the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) Gwalior, she faced a stern opposition from her family. “You’re neither going to do higher studies nor think about working,” her family clearly instructed her while looking for a prospective groom. Dejected yet determined, Nupur took a bold leap of faith by leaving behind her home in a remote Bengal village and sailing for the land of the rising sun, Japan. “Years later, while I was addressing a gathering of around four hundred students at IITTM Gwalior, I was exhilarated. It felt as if my life has attained a complete circle,” shares an emotional Nupur Tewari. Yoga instructor, motivational speaker and philanthropist Nupur Tewari is the founder of Heal Tokyo, a yoga-centric initiative which aspires to bring peace, harmony and serenity for all. In a heartfelt conversation with The Logical Indian, Nupur talks about her journey from being a simple village girl to being a United Nations representative for spreading peace and motivation in Japan, Sri Lanka and Africa. She has recently adopted a school for slum children in Uttar Pradesh and plans to open another in Kolkata soon.
An early life sans electricity or freedom
Born and brought up in an obscure hamlet in Murshidabad, West Bengal, Nupur Tewari did not meet electricity until adulthood. Her rural childhood is laced with memories of studying in front of lanterns and walking three km barefoot to reach school. “I grew up in a conservative joint family where I saw my parents do a lot of charity work. Perhaps that was the reason I developed strong moral principles from a very young age,” she shares.
Isolated from the rest of the world, little Nupur always dreamt of exploring the world someday. Her first tryst with the world outside her village left her with a traumatic experience. At her college in the nearby town, she was discriminated and alienated for her unrefined English accent, rustic attire and a shy demeanour. Securing the first rank in the University was her silent protest.
While still in college, she secured a part-time job as a teacher and started saving for a bright career ahead. But, the family pressure for marriage continued to suffocate her.
“My mother got married at 17, and I have seen her despair from close quarters. I did not want my life to follow a similar pattern,” an emotional Nupur reveals. “No one from my family has ever settled outside the village. Moreover, I was a girl, which made things harder. One day, I informed my mother about a new job offer in Kolkata and left home with her blessings and a meagre 500 rupees,” she recounts.
Journey to Japan
Her sheer zeal and hard work soon landed her a lucrative offer at Mitsubishi as a senior executive, and the job location was Shikoku in Japan. Without thinking twice, Nupur grabbed the opportunity.
Yoga has always been an integral part of Nupur’s life, thanks to her traditional family. “I noticed how yoga was twisted into somewhat of a fashion statement in Japan, losing its cultural value,” narrates Nupur.
In 2003, Nupur voluntary started organising free yoga sessions, to help the Japanese people realise the true essence of yoga, and achieve a little bit of peace in their stressful lives. It did not take long for her unique campaign to gain popularity across towns. Gradually, she also started traditional dance classes, cooking workshops and Bengali language lessons. “I was offered to teach International Relations and English at schools. My efforts to introduce my country in a foreign land earned me the title of the ‘unofficial ambassador of India’ by native media,” she shares. She has also worked as a TV anchor and model and is the first Indian woman to be starring in a Japanese movie soon.
The turning point
In April 2015, the severe Kumamoto earthquake devastated a large area in Kyushu, where she was living. “I was shocked, wondering how can I help the people who have offered a stranger like me so much love,” recalls Nupur.
Aside from monetary contributions, she felt she should initiate something with a long-lasting effect. “I started charity yoga in Kumamoto, which helped to heal the grief-stricken people who lost their everything in the earthquake. Yoga, meditation, self-healing exercises motivated them to start afresh,” shares Nupur, who kept the provision for voluntary donations in her campaigns, the proceeds from which directly financed the rebuilding of homes.
Her amazing efforts were recognised by the United Nations who approached her to organise yoga and healing campaigns in flood-ravaged Sri Lanka and later in parts of Africa as well.
The genesis of ‘Heal Tokyo’ and beyond
Last year, after helping the victims of Mumbai floods, Nupur shifted her base to Tokyo, the happening heart of Japan. She discovered suicide rates were severely high in the robotised city, where each inhabitant is overburdened with stress and anxiety. That was how ‘Heal Tokyo’ was born in 2017, with the mission to relieve an entire city of her cumulative cloud of mental anguish.
However, ‘Heal Tokyo’ did not stay limited within the boundaries of yoga and positive healing.
“While working with Heal Tokyo, I had an inner calling to turn my attention towards my motherland. Through a friend in India, I heard about the deplorable conditions of a school in Aligarh, UP. Without a second thought, I adopted the school and invested Heal Tokyo funds to renovate it entirely,” narrates Nupur. The Heal Tokyo school in Aligarh is now a happy place for 110 slum kids, with two added rooms, vibrant paints on the walls and upcoming digital classrooms. Nupur, a proud mother herself, provides all the books, stationery, uniforms and healthy meals for the students. Yoga and meditation have been integrated into the curriculum to promote a wholesome learning experience.
“When I was standing among the kids, I felt a different kind of pride, with the dream that they will someday inspire their future generations,” reveals Nupur.
Another school for underprivileged children is planned to come up in Salt Lake, Kolkata. To honour her mother, whom she lost recently, Nupur plans to launch an empowerment programme for the rural women of Bengal.
To know more, reach out to the Facebook page of Heal Tokyo: https://www.facebook.com/connectbodymindandsoul/
A message for everyone
The motto for Heal Tokyo reverberates the ancient Indian saying ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is my family). “I only believe in nurturing positivity and try to instil the same in everyone. Today, so many persons consider me their inspiration. I believe if I can inspire a hundred Nupurs, they will, in turn, inspire another thousand, creating a ripple effect of happiness and positivity,” a jubilant Nupur concludes.
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