Having a child who is five and loves watching TV, I am always on the lookout for activities beyond the couch. When Taneira Jayanagar organised the puppet making workshop, I was among the first to register. The puppet making workshop was in line with their philosophy of working with hands in an age where we are forgetting the value of handmade.
My child was totally excited and couldn’t stop talking about it all week. She’s quite a fashionista…and was totally fascinated with all the beautiful sarees, gorgeous colours and lovely ambience. She couldn’t get enough of the beautiful motifs and weaves in the catalogues and was full of advice on which saree I should pick. But I am on this “very difficult to keep promise” of no shopping. Though I did earmark a few sarees I loved, especially the Ikat.
As the Children’s day is being celebrated in November, Taneira organised the puppet making workshop on the 12th of November with Puthali toys who keep conducting such workshops. Mr. Chaitra Kumar represents a lineage of artists and puppeteers from four generations and is the founder of Puthali toys. They make toys and puppets from wood and paper mache and also conduct workshops. The best part in this puppet making workshop was that there was no benchmark, no puppet so see and make. With just a cotton glove, bits of paper, lots of glue and colours, we created the face and the neck. My daughter also added her own touch of blush. Kids picked chits which were based on different weaves and they had to dress up their puppet based on the weave. This was a wonderful way to help them identify the weaves and introduce them to the different textures. We had the south silk and the motif was ‘the tree of life’. It was also an opportunity for us to rediscover the child in us. So though we were clueless in this department, the team from Puthali toys helped us navigate and we easily created masterpieces in puppets.
Within a matter of 2 hours we had a beautiful puppet. Parents were as involved as the children and it was a sight to behold…where everyone was busy with glue and swatches of fabric instead of mobile phones. I am sure the puppet making workshop was a great bonding experience for all involved. With similar pieces of paper, different puppets emerged- the expressions, dress, fashion sense and creativity of kids creating individual beauties. All the materials required for the puppet making was provided by the team from Puthali Toys. There were also the props, the trees, grass, cattle, horses and elephants, all beautifully recreated by the kids, guided by the experts in puppet making from Puthali toys. The parents were then asked to leave the kids to plan and bring together the puppet show.
The story was narrated by one of the kids. The story of the saree seller who thought he had the most beautiful collection of sarees, but was ousted by the queen Sitara Devi who had a saree collection like no other. It was the saree seller’s challenge that nobody had weaves like his and he goes on to display sarees in Kanjeevaram, Ikat from Orissa, Rajkot, Paithani, Banares and Chatthisgarh. The queen inturn displays six sarees in Ilkal, Bengal, Jamini Roy Motif saree, SouthSilk, Kasuti from Karnataka and Jamdani. Parents and the children were introduced to the different weaves as the puppets made their entry with kids wriggling their puppets quite vigorously. This workshop was a beautiful blend of knowledge and fun. After the contest, the queen Sitara Devi, admonishes the saree vendor that each saree is different and has a rich culture and history behind it. So the weaves cannot be compared. She advices him, “Use the opportunity to spread our rich cultural heritage and diversity”. The saree vendor is reformed and becomes the ambassador of our great weaving history.
With this puppet making workshop, the children couldn’t stop smiling, their pride and sense of achievement shining through. I had no idea I would enjoy this puppet making workshop as much as my child. It created wonderful memories for us, which will go much beyond this workshop and Children’s Day. Thank you to the wonderful people at Taneira and Puthali toys for this day.