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Meet Thiyaga Sekar who teaches Origami at government schools in Tamil Nadu

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Thiyaga Sekar teaches Origami to children to spread the word on love

“Each piece of paper holds magic within it. It is amazing what it can turn into in the right hands,” says Thiyaga Sekar as he fashions a paper crane at the Corporation Middle School, Krishnarayapuram. Students try to imitate his action and fold the colourful papers into cranes. Why cranes? To remember Sadako who lived in Hiroshima when it was bombed in1945. While Sadako was in hospital fighting cancer caused by the deadly radiation from the bomb, she began making origami cranes believing that if she could make a thousand of them, she would be cured. “But, she died after she had made 644 cranes. After her death, her friends raised money to build her a memorial and a statue of her holding a crane was raised at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Paper cranes are now considered a symbol of peace and love,” explains Sekar as he examines the models made by his students. “Sadako Sasaki made origami popular across the world. She was born on January 7 in 1943 and this is to celebrate the occasion.” he adds.

Meet Thiyaga Sekar who teaches Origami at government schools in Tamil Nadu

Thiyaga has been teaching origami across Tamil Nadu for 12 years. “I loved working with paper from a young age. There was a bookseller who used to frequent my school. He gifted me a pop up book and also taught me how to make a paper boat. I don’t remember his face, but I consider him my first origami teacher,” says the 38-year-old. “I wanted to bring a positive change in society and decided to teach children a craft that I loved doing. My first session was at an economically backward area in North Chennai. I still remember the look on their faces as the colourful papers took different shapes,” he exclaims.

But it was not an easy journey for him. “For a long time I did not know the right methodology for origami. There were not many artists in the state who took the craft seriously. So, I had to learn it all myself. I read books and researched online. It was also difficult to get schools to allow me to teach the students in the early days. The authorities were not aware of the benefits of origami, but now things have changed,” he says. He has taught in more than 1000 schools . “Most of them are government schools. Children there do not get access to such craft. I fill in the gap,” he smiles.

Thiyaga can now make more than 500 different origami models with paper. “I use it to introduce the basic concepts of math and science. Origami also developsobservation in children along with motor skills,” he says. He has taught hearing and speech impaired children who not only enjoyed the craft, but were very adept at it. “I started with a school in Tiruppur. They learn origami much faster as they have great observation abilities. In Coimbatore, I teach at the Corporation School for Deaf Children at R S Puram,” he says. Thiyaga hasauthored a Tamil book on origami called Kokkukalkakave Vanam in 2017. “It has step by step instructions to make different models and is easy to follow,” he says. He now plans to take his craft to other parts of the country. “I hope to visit every village in the country and spread the craft.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:40:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/meet-thiyaga-sekar-who-teaches-origami-at-government-schools-in-tamil-nadu/article30533965.ece

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