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Mexico looks for Indian children who painted at the 1968 Olympics

Only one of the eight participants from India has been traced so far and he died in 1998 after a long illness.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2018 23:42 IST
Kartikeya Ramanathan
Kartikeya Ramanathan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
1968 Olympics,Mexico,Mexico Olympics
Mexican embassy wishes to present a copy of the framed painting with a certificate of commendation to the participants.(Mexico Embassy, New Delhi)

Mexico has launched a hunt for children from 80 countries, including eight from India, who participated in a global painting festival as part of the cultural activities for the 1968 Olympics.

The children who joined the World Children’s Painting Festival, with the theme “Un Mundo de Amistad (A world of friendship)”, contributed some 1,800 drawings and murals that were displayed at some of Mexico City’s most iconic spots.

Five decades later, as Mexico prepares to host an exhibition with the theme “A world of friendship – 50 years later”, which will feature the few surviving pieces of the original collection, a hunt is underway around the world for the participants of the painting festival.

“To acknowledge the contribution of those children to the painting festival, the embassies of Mexico worldwide are searching for the participants, who would now be adults,” the Mexican embassy in New Delhi said in a statement.

The embassy said three Indian students may have travelled with Indian athletes to Mexico to paint murals. (Mexico Embassy, New Delhi)

The embassy wishes to present a copy of the framed painting with a certificate of commendation to the participants. The embassy also released some of the paintings by the Indian participants and a photo from a publication featuring one of them, Leela Sudakaran.

However, there is a snag — very little is known about the Indian participants, and according to the embassy, only their names and ages are available.

“It is likely that the Indian children may have participated through the renowned Shankar’s International Children’s Art Competition,” the statement said, referring to the art competition organised by noted cartoonist K Shankar Pillai.

Indian student Leela Sudakaran (second left). (Mexico Embassy, New Delhi)

Shankar was known to select the best paintings from his competition and submit them to international events.

The embassy said three Indian students may have travelled with Indian athletes to Mexico to “paint murals which were placed along the Avenue Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, converting the long iconic boulevard into an immense art gallery”.

Only one of the eight participants has been traced so far and he died in 1998 after a long illness. Jitendra Navnitlal Parikh from Baroda, who was 15 at the time of the festival, had submitted a painting entitled “Market”.

The embassy released the names of six other participants: Sujata Sharma (14 at the time) from New Delhi, Ira Sachdeva (12) from New Delhi, Sanat Kundu (13), and Vivek Kuchibhatla (nine years), Ela Ems (eight years) and Leela Sudakaran, who may have travelled to Mexico to paint murals.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 18:41 IST