Sarmaya’s latest collaboration with Saturday Art Class was held at the Chinchavali English Medium Public School, Malad on 7th and 14th March, 2020. The workshop intended to introduce children to the tradition of Tholu Bommalaata shadow puppetry, and use this art form as a tool to discuss gender equality.
With the goal of teaching the children that both genders are equal, the coaches first led them through a highly interactive discussion on gender roles in their homes and societies. They were encouraged to talk about the roles and responsibilities assigned to individuals based on their gender, and to question who prescribes such roles. By the end of the discussion, the classroom reverberated with the slogan 'Hum Sab Ek Hai'.
For the activity the children usually partake in, the Sarmaya team had put together pre cut miniature puppets that were inspired and modelled on Tholu Bommalaata puppets in the Sarmaya collection. Each child was given a puppet. The boys got female puppets and the girls got male puppets. The children coloured in the puppets, attached them to sticks and then broke into groups to think of ideas for a play on flipping gender roles within a home.
It was a fun activity with an overwhelming response. The children came up with complex situations which challenged stereotypical and prescribed gender roles, and used the puppets to express their thoughts. (That included girls playing sports and boys learning classical dance.) The activity served well in using creativity and role playing to introduce critical thinking in these young minds.