Stories and more stories and they were all about animals.

It's time to celebrate nature and what better way to do it than with stories. So, there were story telling sessions held during The Tree of Life Festival organised by the Prakriti Foundation.

The story tellers were Jeeva Raghunath and V.R. Devika, among others.

Jeeva Raghunath's session at Sri Sankara S.S.S., Adyar, was filled with short but animated stories about frogs learning to sing, monkeys swinging on the tree, dogs, crocodiles, donkeys and more. The English and Tamil stories and songs, especially the ‘eli' (mouse) song, kept the children hooked through the hour. They waved, brayed, sang, clapped and laughed.

“The Festival is about all kinds of living creatures. My stories focus on animals too, though not necessarily with a moral at the end. It is important that the children enjoy the story and remember it. So that when they later recall the story, they can reflect upon the subtle message conveyed through it, like how they should not pluck leaves from plants while passing by, because plants have feelings too,” explained Jeeva.

V.R. Devika's session at the same school started off with a story of a deer in a forest which the children enacted along with her. All the noise and restlessness present during the story was gone almost as soon as Devika narrated lesser known stories of Gandhiji. The children had a few interesting questions to ask like “Have you seen Gandhi?” and even a statement like “My mother was born on the same day as Gandhiji”.

One story was about how Gandhi while addressing a rally at his old school cleverly took on a violent protesting mob. Gandhi with the protection of the mob leader itself made his way through the mob and got into his car safely. “It takes great courage to go towards the people who are coming towards you to hit you,” said Devika. And it takes even more courage to stick to ahimsa, learnt the children.

The stories were followed by an explanation of the workings of the charka and its significance. “Gandhiji felt that while undertaking peaceful protests, it is essential to keep the people occupied and thus the charka was used to keep the protesters' hands busy. Also, Gandhiji felt that if we could produce our own cotton fabric rather than pay a high price for the imported cotton that the British made Indians buy, it would serve to deter their interest in our country,” shared Devika.

JANANI BALAJI, VI : I loved the stories about Gandhiji. I learnt that he was a courageous man and that non-violence is a powerful tool. I like the way they act out the stories in such sessions.

AKANSH MELATERU BHARADWAJ, V : I was excited to see the spinning of the cotton yarn that Ms. Devika demonstrated. From Gandhiji's stories I learnt the importance of non-violence and courage.

CHAITANYA, III : I liked all the stories narrated by Ms. Jeeva Raghunath. I would like to see the stories of Disney's Kick Buttowski enacted.

RAHUL T., III : The songs and the stories were all fun. I enjoyed them. I wish the stories of Phineas and Ferb were a part of the story telling sessions.

KRITHIKA S., III : The sessions were a new experience for me. I liked acting. The stories that I wish were enacted are that of Hardy Boys.

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Madhumitha SrinivasanJune 28, 2012