Connecting with the past

Earthy experience.  

The holidays are proving to be different for Anoop. He is having a wonderful time playing with clay. And what is different for him and the other kids attending a summer camp at Thripunithura is that they are engaged in activities that are being fast forgotten in this age of plastic toys and computer games.

`Kalikalaayiram' is the camp that is being conducted at the Sree Narayana Vidyapeetam. There, children are busy making soft toys, painting pots and murals, making things out of clay, plaster of Paris, creating collages, paper flowers, etc.

The folklore festival and training camp for children is full of activities that connect them with the past. Making small things like birds of straw, balls and baskets with dried bamboo shoots, gardening (including a kitchen garden), making a variety of things with coconut shell, coir, paper pulp, wax candles and craft paper are a few among them.

They will also be given training in making ornaments and metal and wood sculpting. These are conducted in a `Koothambalam' model `Kalari' specially constructed for the camp two years ago.

Says the general convener of Kalikalaayiram, T.S. Natarajan, "Children do not get to see or do things which were common during the olden days, such as walking across a paddy field or climbing a tree or making simple toys at home. Children are now used to plastic toys or modern gadgets. They are not in touch with Nature."

In touch with tradition.

In touch with tradition.  

Since it is not the fault of the children that such a situation has come about, the concerted efforts of the parents, teachers and the board members of the school have been directed at recreating a few aspects of life that children now seem to have no experience of.

They also get trained in soap-making and screen printing. Soaps made at the camp are wrapped in the paper printed by them and given away, says Mr. Natarajan. The children get a chance to listen to folk instruments and songs by various artistes.

And it is not that the `present' is neglected here. The children get an opportunity to take a close look at modern gadgets. Mobile phones, computers, electronic chokes and a model helicopter are some of the things that will be dismantled and assembled for the children.

Every evening, the children are treated to some special programmes. Some of the talented among them get a platform to perform.

This year children at the camp will perform a skit on their own, says Mr. Natarajan. Last year it was film-making. A 10-minute story was captured on video by the children in the camp last year. The camp, which started on April 6m will be on till April 13.

By Shyama Rajagopal

Photo: Vipin C. Babu