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Bal Choupal, Uttarkashi, March 2012

A ‘Bal Choupal’ was organized by the Azim Premji Institute, for children from government and private schools in Azad Maidan, Uttarkashi, on 27th March 2012. Approximately 250 children and teachers from 20 schools participated in this. Various kinds of stalls were put up wherein children could engage in activities according to their interests.

Theatre stall: this was very interesting for the children. The presentation of stories in a theatrical style captured the audience. All the children, teachers and parents appreciated the presentation by the organizer. The art of storytelling, expressions, and gestures, were attractive to the children. They also learnt the nuances of dance.

Ringal Stall: with the objective of increasing awareness in children about arts connected to the local environment, a local ringal stall was put up (Ringal is a kind of dwarf bamboo). The reference person connected to ringal craft, Shri Keshar Lal ji, told children about things made with ringal and also demonstrated the craft to them by creating some objects.

Science Stall: Applying science by connecting it to life was intriguing for most children and teachers. The children greatly enjoyed activities such as balancing twelve nails on one, linking three islands, making eggs stand vertically, and so on.

Potter’s corner: Children used clay to create piggy banks, glasses, pitchers, and bowls. Many found making clay vessels in Uttarkashi to be amazing artwork and were captivated by the potter’s wheel. Some even crafted their favourite animals with the clay. For children and local youth, this stall remained a topic of intrigue till the end.

A world of books: This stall attracted everyone with a colourful array of books for children and adults. It was decorated with posters which featured songs celebrating the importance of books.

Art stall: The children lost themselves in the world of art. Colours in hand, they brought out the shades of the earth - mixing water colours, designing new shapes with oil colours. About eighty children sat with the reference person Talwar ji, an art teacher famous in Uttarkashi district, and learnt how to make pencil sketches.

Cycle ride: This was a unique stall. The children really enjoyed the process of taking a cycle apart and then putting it back together. Several dirtied their hands over the cycles - removing the tires, taking the tube out, locating the puncture and fixing it, fitting the tube back in the tire, and pumping air in the tires.  Children from remote schools even wanted to learn how to ride a cycle, and some attempted it. Children learnt the science behind a cycle through playing and doing.

Bal Choupal’s train of songs: This was unique, with children singing together. Every child felt like singing, and they sang whatever they knew. The organizers encouraged them and added accompaniments to their singing. An air of song and music pervaded the entire Bal Choupal.

Wool and spinning wheel: Here, children were taught the intricacies of making woollen garments by a Bhotiya family from Dunda. More than the children, the adults showed interest in this. Cleaning the wool, weaving yarn, running the spinning wheel, and such details were taught. Some even learnt to work the spindle. The organizers kept stressing that they should concentrate on the spindle and maintain balance to learn how to make woollen clothes.
Location: 
Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand