Introducing Gandhi to children

nurture with smiles: Children tending to saplings at Rangayana, in Mysore. (Top left) While a few kids identify various species of butterflies

The annual feature of theatre repertory Rangayana, “Chinnara Mela” is beckoning children and parents alike. As the popularity chart of the summer camp soars high among different classes and groups of people in city, the concept of Chinnara Mela has come of a age now.

As Chinnara Mela enters its 15th year during the ongoing summer camp, the Rangayana has evolved new ideas to mould the children to develop sensitivity to the crucial modern day issues.

The Rangayana team has been working on innovative themes for children every year. And, this year children are being introduced to man of the millennium, Mahatma Gandhi. At a time when Gandhiji is seemingly becoming less familiar to even  the grown ups, introducing the Mahatma to children is a challenging, yet welcome move.

It is not through any lessons or stories that the children are introduced to Mahatma Gandhiji, but through selling his beliefs, ideas, philosophy like truth, concern for environment and agriculture.

With the theme, “Gandhi Baapu, Paapu Gandhi”, the children have developed sensitivity to nature, ecology, agriculture and farmers and the wildlife along with teaching the philosophy of truth.

A group of children are undergoing  practice on staging a play based on the theme around Baapu’s inspiration to uphold the truth, after he watched the play, ‘Satya Harishchandra’ in his childhood.

“The children are being trained by senior theatre artiste Prashanth Hiremath to give the big show in the first week of May,” Coordinator for the summer camp Krishna Prasad told City Herald.

Initially though, children showed reluctance or failed to understand Gandhi through our concepts and themes, slowly they started to comprehend enough to receive our message. They were shown the agriculture system by making them sow seeds in the Rangayana field. “There was a commotion on the day when naturalist Manu distributed nestlings asking children to build nests on their houses. In the melee, a few children took extra nests.

Next day, when we told that it was wrong on their part, eight children came to us and returned the extra nestlings. We did not make them feel guilty, but appreciated their gesture,” he says. On flipside, naturalist Manu who is invited as the resource person to educate the children on ecology and wildlife took the children in small batches to serene Kukkarahalli lake every morning to introduce them to the world of birds and the ecology.
“Children were exposed to different shapes of leaves, various species of birds, the native species of birds and plants. The children were also screened movies like colour of paradise and children of heaven which is all about the nature,” says Manu.

The participants were also taught on making small nests for the birds. The nestling were made using pots, bamboo and wood.  The children were told how to attract particular species of birds to their nests and what direction the nests should be kept to avoid damage from rains.

“There is an increased awareness among the children on nature and its conservation. Though, everyone cannot become a professional naturalist, atleast they will show concern for protection of nature,” Manu opines.

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