Mira, a young Indian Christian lady, daughter of a Muslim father and a Hindu mother from Madras, was one of the assistants in L’Arche, Trosly-Breuil as early as March 1965. A few years later, Mira’s father became unwell and she wanted to be by the side of her ailing father. About the same time Jean Vanier was talking to Gabrielle Einsle, a German Lady in her early thirties, about an Indian L’Arche community and in October, 1968 Gabrielle and Mira left for India to explore the possibilities of founding such a community. Jean Vanier joined them a few days later, in the land of Gandhi. Asha Niketan (Abode of Hope), the Indian idiom of L’Arche, was founded in 1970 in Bangalore.
The birth of the five communities in India:
Asha Niketan Bangalore was started in 1970 by Gabrielle Einsle with Chikku Sreenivas as the first core member. Today, it is situated in a residential area of this big city. The community has one site comprising a community house and vocational training workshops.
L’Arche’s first contact with Kolkata was in 1971, when Jean Vanier visited the refugee camps formed after the Bangladesh war with Mother Theresa. A year later, Cardinal Picachy offered L’Arche a building near Sealdah railway station. In 1973, Asha Niketan Kolkata community was founded with Kashi as the first core member and Gabrielle Einsle as its founder. The community is situated in a poor neighbourhood of the densely populated city of Kolkata. It has two sites in Tangara with two community houses, vocational training centres and a day care centre.
Mr. Bharathan visited Asha Niketan Bangalore and was inspired by the story of L’Arche. It motivated him to start Asha Niketan Chennai supported by Fr.Cirac in 1975, with his son Ramesh as the first core member. Situated in the suburbs of Chennai just a few minutes’ walk from the beach. Two community houses, vocational training unit and a development centre are at the community in what was once a fishing village.
After a visit to Asha Niketan Bangalore and meeting with Jean Vanier, Mr. Premanand offered 10 acres of land in Kerala. Chris Sadler, who was living with Dalits in Tamil Nadu, accepted Jean Vanier’s invitation to begin Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar in 1977 with Mithran as the first core member. Situated in a fishing village, it is the only rural community in India and has a very distinctive and peaceful rhythm, much in tune with the local culture and nature. The community comprises: 3 community houses, day care centre and a vocational training unit.
Asha Niketan Asansol is located 200 K.M. from Kolkata in Asansol, West Bengal a coal and steel industrial town. Started in 2007, it exists on one acre of land and buildings donated by the Christian Brothers. The Community has a residential home, vocational training centre and day care centre.