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Updated: September 10, 2012 19:17 IST

Designs on reading

Esther Elias
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DOTS AND LINES Drawing kolams
DOTS AND LINES Drawing kolams

Pratham Books’ country-wide One Day-One-Story initiative was taken up in Coimbatore as well

“Do you know what a kolam is?” asks storyteller Rohini Christopher in a room with more adults than children. “If you draw on the floor with white chalk, it becomes a kolam!” says one child. “My grandmother taught me how to make kolams and we made it with powdered rice, not chalk,” says Rohini. “That was so that ants could eat the rice powder. But today, we put bug repellents around our kolams to prevent ants,” adds another child. Rohini then goes on to tell the story of a girl named Susheela whose grandmother taught her to make kolams as well.

Rohini is joined by 250 other storytellers in 28 Indian states, all narrating Sridala Swami’s illustrated story, Susheela’s Kolams. As part of Pratham Books’ ‘One Day- One Story’ initiative to celebrate International Literacy Day (September 8), online children’s library Long Long Ago organised a storytelling session in ALG Matriculation School.

With a little background on kolams, the children listen to Susheela’s story. Susheela was a young girl who loved drawing kolams and hence drew them on steps and walls, along trains and even on kites until one day, the Air Force asks her to help them make a kolam with planes in the sky. Soon, even the stars begin to look like kolam dots to Susheela and she fills the night sky with her designs. “So, if you love something and do it over and over again, you too can touch the sky,” Rohini tells the children.

Pratham Books’ campaign ran across the country in English and local languages, and also included differently-abled children. It was conducted in schools and libraries, orphanages and villages, and told even through magic shows and shadow puppetry at some venues. Coimbatore’s quiet participation in the campaign ended with the children learning to draw freehand kolams.

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