Back to the Future

From understanding a Japanese festival called Cherry Blossom to exploring the history behind Chinese lanterns,and listening to stories that reveal the secrets of ancient civilisations and cultures.

Written by Reshma Aradhya | Published:May 28, 2012 1:59 am

From understanding a Japanese festival called Cherry Blossom to exploring the history behind Chinese lanterns,and listening to stories that reveal the secrets of ancient civilisations and cultures. While the city is abuzz with a number of regular summer workshops,this out-of-the-box workshop named ‘Melting Pot’ is not only keeping its participants busy in a constructive way but is also enriching their knowledge in a unique manner.

Conducted by visual anthropologist Lopamudra Maitra Bajpai,the workshop,divided into seven classes,includes a series of lectures on various ancient cultures from across the globe,cultures and crafts. The classes include a short introduction to local geography and history of the place. Finally,it is about observing any specific character in its socio-cultural or religious life,which also portrays the individual nature of the civilisation.

Currently a visiting faculty at West Bengal State University of Folklore and Literature,Bajpai has taught at the Pune University in the past. Explaining the concept of the workshsop,she says,“The emphasis of Melting Pot is on ancient cultures from around the globe. To understand the very important aspect of the intrinsic nature of each culture. This is of considerable influence in present times. As cultures come closer because of globalisation and various means of communication,traits and characters of each culture are often and frequently exposed to other cultures,” she says.

Stating the reason for conducting the workshop primarily for kids,she says,“While teaching students at the university,I realised that it’s very difficult to teach elders,since there is always a big ‘No’ for history . I feel communication is very limited. Whereas kids are always vehement about learning new things. I am very impressed by small kids making efforts to understand culture,tradition and history.”

Dr Saurabh Bhatia,parent of one of the children at the workshop,says that he wanted his child to know more about history,since the knowledge imparted in school is limited. “Here at the workshop,” he says,”apart from the curriculum,they learn anthropology and lateral thinking,which is really amazing. It’s all about global knowledge.”

Saaz Bhatia,a 13-year-old boy at the workshop,looks forward to coming to the workshop as he gets to learn a number of things about different types of tribes,traditions,rituals and crafts. “I came to know that the two colours,golden and red,are the two main colours of China. I even got to learn that Japan is a combination of four elements and is located in the ring of fire. It is prone to earthquakes and natural calamities and is highly populated,” he says.

Having made her first Chinese lantern,little Tanvika Parrira,7,knows that the Chinese lanterns are an important part of Chinese festivals. “I have made this lantern out of paper and cardboard. I have also done Origami,using glue,scissors and just paper folding. It can be made into a book mark resembling a crane,” she says with a smile.

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