September 3, 2021 5:14:00 pm
By Ritesh Rawal
The vibrance of India stems from the sundry cultures, languages, religions, art forms, music, folk art, food cuisines and customs. And this diversity also makes India a land of festivals, one every few days if one were to go deep into the calendar fine print. The diversity of communities ensures that different festivals carry their unique charms, rituals, flavours and fervour.
Children in the 0-5 year age group especially have so much to enjoy and learn through festivals that more than celebratory occasions, these moments can become opportunities to enhance the horizons of their knowledge.
Learning social skills
Most obviously, through festivals, children learn social skills as family members, relatives and friends get together to mark the occasion in unison. There’s so much knowledge to acquire in these moments as children witness people greeting, welcoming, embracing and communicating with each other. These occasions also serve as opportunities for forging new bonds, friendships and through warm interactions, strengthen existing bonds.
Creativity is another major motif running across Indian festivals. These occasions are generally marked by showcasing of various art forms such as painting, designing, colouring, drawing, crafting, decorating and sculpting. All these arts find expression in unique creations such as rangoli, earthen lamp patterns, decorating homes like a bridal palace. Besides, children get a fair exposure to singing, dancing and listening to music at festivals. Through observation or personal learning, children subtly acquire these talents while relishing the fun and frolic. If the first year kids learn creativity, the subsequent year they find the same opportunities to display their talent after perfecting it in the intervening period.
Learning folklore and traditions
Festivals vary in their characteristics, rituals and manner of celebration according to the region they hail from. Children’s curiosities drive them to understand the origins, the folklore and tale behind every festival. This leads to enhancement of their geographical, intellectual and cultural know-how. Occurring periodically, festivals teach children the concept of seasons and time, diversity of traditions and customs and how such a vast multitude of population lives as one, with a uniform identity – Indian citizen. The festivals also serve as events teaching children all about the pluralistic yet secular credentials of the national fabric. Children tend to learn mathematical concepts too when they get accustomed to different calendars such as lunar calendar, regional calibration of time etc. Additionally, festivals acquaint children with mythological tales, Gods and demigods, who in turn act as role models or figures to look up to while crossing the channel of life.
Increasing general awareness
Additionally, festivals also serve to teach children about various aspects of production and manufacturing with occasions such as Diwali feeding their curiosities over how crackers emit fire, how they are manufactured, their implications for the environment, etc. An occasion like Holi may teach children about playing colours, their herbal substitutes, how they are composed, the importance of skin care, etc. Something like a Ganpati Visarjan may whet their appetite for ecological sensitivity and environmental awareness with the immersion of idols, usage of nature friendly compounds such as clay. Witnessing the fervent victory of good over evil in Dussehra may inculcate righteousness in them. The preparations in the lead up to all these festivals may help children learn unique artisan talents such as painting huge Raawan effigies, composing colossal Ganesha idols, manufacturing of crackers en masse keeping security protocols in mind et al.
A positive experience
During festivals, children learn about emotions, excitement and what relations mean. Basking in the joviality, rejoicing in the celebration, children feed off the positivity and understand the value of a conducive environment for sustaining warmth in relationships. Wallowing in the atmosphere of joy, children learn the true importance of togetherness to de-stress and unwind from the mundane daily academic routine. By taking note of how others deck up and dress up, children learn how special occasions warrant special attires, a form of emotional expression.
Boost visualisation skills
Finally, when children learn about the anecdotes and inspirations behind festivals, they indirectly boost their visualisation skills, not to mention learning how to be patient listeners and think while they hear out. Festivals also come with their terminologies, special references and glossary. Kids get to read rich content on special occasions and while doing that they learn how to communicate, how to extend the greetings themselves.
(The writer is Founder, Dudes & Dolls World, and Adhyay School)
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