The playground of Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar, on Sunday morning was like a microcosm of India. In one corner, hand-made kites fluttered over drapes made out of Gujarati lippan work done by six-year-olds, while in the other, little girls and boys performed the Chhau Dance from eastern India amid sonorous drones of the dhol. This celebration was part of the 'Mad About Heritage' festival, an attempt by the school to make children aware of India's cultural roots.
The mela was the culmination of various out-of-school activities and in-class sessions conducted by the school between October and January to instill in children pride regarding their country's heritage, as envisioned by the school's founder, late Manju Bharat Ram.
"Somewhere along the line we have forgotten our heritage. So, we wanted to expose our children to the art, crafts, music and history of India, which will eventually die if they do not preserve it," said Radhika Bharat Ram, member of the school's management. "That sense of one's roots is missing in children today. So, we wanted them to experience that cultural richness through interactive learning," said Manika Sharma, the school's principal.
As part of this initiative, children learnt tie and dye, block printing and kite making, while others were educated about musical instruments such as the pakhawaj, sitar and tanpura as well as dance forms like Odissi. Some visited monuments like Humayun's Tomb to experience their heritage first hand, while others immersed themselves in India's history dating back to the Mughal era and also learnt calligraphy.
Colourful stalls on themes such as 'Handicrafts and Textiles', 'Myths and Legends of India', 'Built and Natural Heriatge' were put up by the children, dressed in traditional Indian finery. All items on display, such as Chhau masks, , clay art were made by the children.