The word Sangam means "coming together," and since it opened in 1966, girls and young women have come to share Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting experiences and their cultures. Sangam is located in India, a country which has the greatest diversity of culture, language, and ethnic groups of any in the world. The earliest-known civilization in India dates to 2500 BC. Pune, where Sangam is based, has visible remnants of many past civilizations.
The mission of Sangam is to provide international opportunities for training and self-growth in a cross-cultural environment. The first international session at Sangam was in 1967, focusing on the Asia Pacific Region. International events, focusing on global issues, Indian life and culture, and a broader knowledge of Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting throughout the world are held each year.
India is a very diverse country with many different religions and social classes. Many people in India live in rural villages, where agriculture and weaving are common industries. In the cities, manufacturing and telecommunications are important industries. The Indian film industry (famous for Bollywood movies) is the largest in the world.
India has a variety of festivals celebrated by different religious communities with enthusiasm throughout the year. Indian festivals celebrated by varied cultures and through their special rituals add to the richness of Indian heritage. Traditional music and dance are important parts of many celebrations.
Some of the main festivals celebrated by the majority of the population are Dussehra (conquest of good over evil), Diwali (festival of lights) and Holi (festival of colors). Causes for celebration include the welcoming of different seasons, important family occasions such as weddings, and birthdays of divine beings, Saints and gurus.
Estimated Time Line for Sangam Trip
|2 years before departure||Review Sangam calendar of upcoming events and choose desired session based on interests of group.|
|22 months||Contact Sangam with tentative reservation. Hold orientation meeting to discuss trip/ determine who is going. This is a good time for open discussion. Serve Indian food, show pictures, have someone share personal experiences if possible. Send Sangam 10% deposit.|
|18 – 20 months||If you desire to tour India (highly recommended), Sangam will assist you. Note: if this is your first visit to India, you should tour following your Sangam session. This will give you an opportunity to adjust to India before exploring.|
|12 – 14 months||Begin to contact airlines for fare information. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance. Share any information sent to you by Sangam. There may be preparation needed by your group before the trip, i.e. there is usually an international evening at Sangam and you will be asked to prepare a presentation showcasing your region. This can be a skit, slides, songs, story, dance, and of course, food from your area.|
|8 – 12 months||Purchase airline tickets. Check all information on the tickets carefully. Make sure everyone has a current passport extending at least 6 months after your arrival date.|
|6 months||Check with your physician for any inoculations needed. You will need to take malaria medication during the trip. Send 40% of event fee to Sangam (non-refundable).|
|2 – 4 months||Make sure all money has been collected. Note: the import and export of Indian Currency is prohibited. There are several Money Exchange counters in airport arrivals their rates are usually quite good. There are also ATMs approx. 10 minutes walk from Sangam and Money Exchange offices on M.G. Road approx. 30 minutes from Sangam by rickshaw.|
|1 – 2 months||Obtain visitors 6 month visa to visit India. They become valid from the day they are issued and can be obtained from Indian embassy or by mail. Pay remaining 50% balance to Sangam one month prior to event.|
|0 – 2 months||This is the time for any last minute questions from group|
ENJOY YOUR TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
- The closest International Airport is in Mumbai (Bombay), and flights arrive daily from cities around the world. Most flights arrive between 11 pm and 3 am. You can choose to stay at a hotel in Mumbai for the night, or you can travel directly to Sangam.
- Arrive at Sangam on the day prior to the event commencing. It is important to have this time to rest after a long trip.
- Travelling time between Mumbai and Pune is at least three hours one way by taxi or bus, four hours by train.
- Sangam is located about 20 minutes by rickshaw from the airport, bus or train station in Pune. Rickshaws are small three wheeled vehicles that operate like taxis. They hold up to three people (less with large pieces of luggage) and operate on a metered price system.
- Travel light. Watch your luggage at all times and never let go of your travel documents and money.
- Carry a photocopy of all your important documents: passport, visa, tickets, itinerary and emergency contacts. It is also a good idea to leave a copy of these documents with someone at home.
- All airline tickets must be reconfirmed once you are in India for your outward journey. This service can be coordinated by Sangam for a fee.
- Sangam has basic washing (by hand) and ironing facilities. Washing powder is available in nearby shops. There is also a dhobi (washerman) service available. The dhobi will come and collect your clothes, wash and iron them and deliver them back the next morning, all for a small fee.
- Sangam has both Western and Asian flush toilets. Toilet paper is provided.
- The food served at Sangam is a mixture of Indian and Western, and both vegetarian and non-vegetarian is available. Usually lunch is a typical Indian meal and dinner is a Western meal. Breakfast is Western with an Indian dish included occasionally.
- All of Sangam's drinking water is filtered and safe, and filtered water is used to wash all fresh fruits and vegetables served at the Centre. Bottled water is available to buy throughout India, and you will be able to fill your bottle from a water cooler at Sangam.
- The most efficient way to make calls home is by using direct dial international telephone booths located all over India (ISD/STD booths). There is one located just outside the Sangam gates.
- Calling long distance over the internet is increasingly an option at internet cafes, however at this time connections are sometimes slow.
- There are two internet stations available at Sangam for a small fee.