Reclaiming public space through play

Street Play an initiative to reclaim the street held as part of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival on Sunday. Special Arrangement

Street Play an initiative to reclaim the street held as part of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival on Sunday. Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Pondicherry Heritage Festival's initiative is aimed at promoting a sense of community

Turning the clock back to a quieter era, one of the streets in Boulevard was reclaimed for the community to indulge in a variety of activities as part of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival.

The street play event hosted on the Kamatchi Amman Koil Street (between MG Road and Mission Street), which was restored to its traffic-free origins for a few hours.

The Pondicherry Heritage Festival initiative is aimed to promote greater sense of community, overall happiness and reclaiming a street that was more friendly and safer streets for children.

Children played hop hop, coco, cricket, lock and key, tik tik, snake and ladder, pallanguzhi, water balloons, frog jumping, pacha kudhirai, swing, hide and seek and a lot more games. It was as much a rediscovering of the past for several adults too as they tried their hand at near-forgotten traditional games.

Posters with tree names in Tamil and English were tied to each tree. Seating arrangements were made with recycled materials. Children were also given traditional refreshments such as peanut ladoo, sesame ladoo, buttermilk, watermelon, cucumber and ‘panagam’, a jaggery-based sweet drink.

Street Play was inspired from Open Streets, a movement in the United States to open the streets for people to engage with their neighbourhood actively.

No traffic zone

The idea behind it was to transform the historic street to the way it was meant to be, free of motorised traffic and clean for children to play.

According to the hosts, historically, the streets in the Boulevard town were the place for social activity — where people gathered, built relationships, talked about their world while children played in the streets without any safety concerns. A situation which has become impossible as streets have been overwhelmed by vehicles.

Through the event, children got the chance to be outside, active, making friends and being part of their communities just as much as their predecessors did a generation ago.

The event was coordinated by Ananthi G Velmurugan, conservation architect and supported by INTACH and People for Pondicherry Heritage.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 7:51:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/reclaiming-public-space-through-play/article30778122.ece

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