Is that a wheel? Is that a cycle? It's a charkha! More than 60 children between the ages of five and 10 learned about Mahatma Gandhi in a unique way at the book launch of My Gandhi Story, held at Kitab Khana on Sunday, day two of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
Authored by children's writer Nina Sabnani and storyteller Ankit Chadha, with Warli illustrations by artist Rajesh Vangad, the book and the launch event were a treat for the young visitors, many of whom were hearing about Gandhi's life in detail for the first time. Some had even initally mistaken the charkha for a bicycle.
"My grandfather was also a freedom fighter and he used to tell me stories about Bapuji. But now I know a lot more about his life, like how he used the charkha to make clothes," said Ria Kothari, 6, a Breach Candy resident.
For the authors, the event served as the ideal way to reach out to children, given that the purpose of writing the book was to make the Mahatma and his teachings simple and accessible for them.
The book's striking use of Warli art to illustrate stories about various aspects of Gandhi's life, such as the Swadeshi movement, was also met with enthusiasm.
"We were overjoyed at the children's response. They were all so enthusiastic," said Chadha. "Art always connects with children, and this book is driven by art."
Nayana Vachharajani, 9, a Chembur resident, would agree.
"I loved the art and the storytelling. I really enjoyed the event," she said.
For the parents, this was a good opportunity to get their children interested in the story of a great man. "It was good to see them learning about Gandhi," said Bandra resident Zaheer Amin, who had brought his two daughters, aged seven and nine, to the event. "They had a lot of fun at the session."