A group of students will spend their summer holidays excavating artefacts that teach them about life in the Indus Valley civilisation, right here in Mumbai.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sanghralaya (formerly called Prince of Wales Museum) will simulate a 15-day archaeological dig for these children, aged between eight and 15, as part of their summer workshop series. "This will give them a chance to solve some mysteries of history themselves, outside of their school textbooks," said Bilwa Kulkarni, education officer at the museum. "We will also have children make and play with toys that children in Harappa are believed to have played with 5,000 years ago." Called the Harappan Holidays, the workshop is one of several summer classes this year that teach students different skills and aspects of culture.
"It's important for parents to make use of this holiday time fruitfully," says Deepa Ghalot, head of programming (film and theatre) at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). The NCPA is organising a Summer Fiesta for children including 20 workshops on acting, comedy, dance and literature among others.
"Mumbai kids are not formally introduced to culture studies unless it's part of their syllabus, and these workshops are a fun way to educate them and build on their talents, too. Who knows, it might lead to a career decision," Ghalot added.
Nine-year-old Bianca Varma will travel all the way from her Malad home to the NCPA at Nariman Point for her summer classes, and will learn storytelling through Bharatnatyam and puppetry this year. "If children aren't challenged in the holidays, they'll end up watching television," said Mallika Bianca's mother. "After 45 minutes of watching TV, the child's brain switches off and he or she becomes cranky. This is a carefree time for them, which makes it an ideal environment to cultivate interests and expose them to music, dance, theatre and other hobbies they can follow through life."
Andheri resident Ushma Merchant has already enrolled her son, Arya, 8, into the Thinking Club, a personality development workshop that hones a child's potential and highlights their individuality. "The other day, Arya visited an orphanage where he made cheese sandwiches for the children and interacted with them. Now, when he watches me buying mangoes, he insists we send some to the orphanage. It's good to know my child has been sensitised to the ways of the world," she said.