Little Bengal in a Mumbai school

Mumbai:
It is a celebration of West Bengal! From traditional handicrafts
to dresses to dances to cuisine — it’s a veritable tour de force
through the state. Except for one little fact. You are not in West
Bengal but hundreds of kilometres away in a Mumbai school.

In an effort to help its students develop a keen sense of
understanding of the world, Children’s Academy, a school in
Mumbai’s northwest Malad suburb, has embarked on a unique
endeavour to study the diversity that is India.

Every two years, around 350 teachers and 10,000 students of the
school’s three branches get together for a two-day extravaganza to
explore an Indian state and celebrate its language, dress,
customs, dance, art, geography and more. This time the state was
West Bengal.

“First, we went on a trip to Kolkata and Darjeeling along with 100
students and teachers to get an idea of the culture of the state,”
school director Rohit Bhat told IANS.

“The parents of Bengali students and teachers provided us all the
information and guidance that we needed every now and then,” he
added.

Over 800 students actively participated in the extravaganza last
month by performing skits and dance-dramas and staging fashion
shows. During the programme, students fluently used Bengali
phrases and then repeated them in English for the better
understanding of the audience.

Traditional Bengali dances like ‘Brotocharya’, ‘Dhanerkhet’, ‘Dhitam
Dhitam’, ‘Pavan’, ‘Hriday Amar’, ‘Machwara’ and ‘Dhunuchi’ were
performed by the students.

Bengali festivals like Durga Puja, Vasant Panchami and the
ceremony of Anna Prassan — when a seven-month-old is given his or
her first solid food — were also performed.

A traditional Bengali wedding was also staged many times during
the two-day festival.

The school, decked up in traditional Bengali artwork, seemed
breathtaking right from the entrance as teachers dressed in sarees
and dhoti-kurtas greeted the parents of the students and other
guests.

“We did not hire any outside help for the artwork across the
school. Our 18 art teachers have worked hard to turn the school
into West Bengal,” said Rohan Bhat, another director of the
school.

Artefacts like replicas of mud huts with thatched roofs were also
displayed in another part of the two-floored school building to
give the look of rural Bengal.

Pure cotton, ‘Jamdani’ and ‘Katha’ stitch sarees and kurtas were
also displayed to portray the traditional attire of the state.
Masks from the Santhal region were awe-inspiring.

Pinal Vora, a 13-year-old student, prepared a unique model of the
state’s geography, highlighting several famous spots of the state
like Howrah Bridge, Eden Gardens, Victoria Memorial, Belur Math
and Vidyasagar Setu.

Posters and writeups on Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore,
philosopher and religious reformer Swami Vivekanand, freedom
fighter Subhas Chandra Bose and Mother Teresa were put up on the
walls. Some children played these personalities in skits.

The extravaganza culminated in a fashion show that was performed
five times on popular demand.

Children walked the ramp dressed like film personalities R.D.
Burman, Shreya Ghoshal, Sharmila Tagore, Kajol, Rani Mukerji,
Sushmita Sen and Satyajit Ray amongst others.

The fashion show also portrayed famous Bengali personalities like
swimmer Bula Chaudhary, writer Jhumpa Lahiri, cricketer Sourav
Ganguly, politicians Pranab Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee,
magician P.C. Sarkar and scientist J.C. Bose. Their roles and
achievements were read out from backstage.

 

Mauli Buch can be
contacted at mauli.b@ians.in

 


 

 

 

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