A Mahabharata of Skills

A Mahabharata of Skills

A mini Mahabharata took place on Sunday, September 25. About 200 warriors from four special schools participated in the annual combat organised by the Chinmaya Mission, Thane. The battles were fought in the premises of Jidd School for special children and Vasant Vihar School. The difference in this Mahabharata was that whoever fought, won.

It was the fifth annual Gita Utsav 2005-2006, an inter-school competition that aims to promote the eternal wisdom of Bhagavad Gita among children. As many as 2,000 children from 16 normal schools participated in the competition. But this year was special because it was the first year when children from special schools were allowed to participate in the competition. Principal of Jidd School, Shyamashree Bhonsle, graciously offered her school’s premises for the event and students

From four special schools, namely St John’s, Holy Cross, Snehadeep and Jidd School, fought the battles with enthusiasm.

This year’s theme was Mahabharata and the 200-or-so mentally challenged children clashed in three main areas – recital of Gita slokas, drawing, and fancy dress. To ensure fairness, the special children were grouped as per the severity of their challenge. The judges for the drawing competition were Neelam Manchanda, an art and craft teacher and Smita Gawand, who runs a nursery school in Thane. Asha Sunil Kumar, director of Sanskruti Fine Art Academy and Sudha Skrikant, Principal of a nursery school, judged the fancy dress competition.

In the sloka recital contest, four mentally challenged children from Jidd School recited nine slokas from the fifth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, competing with students of class I and II from normal schools. In the drawing and colouring competition, while the hearing impaired children competed with students from normal schools, the mentally challenged children competed amongst themselves. The severely challenged were given a simple pot to colour, the moderately challenged were given a pot with Krishna, and the mildly challenged were given a pot with Krishna posing in nature. The participants were judged on neatness, colour combination, overall effect and presentation. In the fancy dress competition, the children had to not only dress up as a character from Mahabharata, but also utter a few lines. It was this competition that stunned and fascinated the judges. The mentally challenged children dressed up as Vasudeva, Poothana Krishna, Bhima, Vidur, Eklayav, Kunti, Gandhari, and Draupadi. The children mimed the characters with such finesse that the judges rated their performances comparable to, and in some cases better than, normal children.

Bhonsle was impressed by the well-planned manner in which the event was organised. “The contest was fair. Children were judged purely on the merit of their performances and nothing else,” revealed Bhonsle. She was also glad to see the enthusiasm of parents of the special children, without whose efforts, the children would not have been able to participate or perform.

The mini Mahabharata ended with all participating children winning not only cash prizes and certificates, but also the blessings of Lord Krishna in the form of wisdom of Bhagavad Gita.

Because parenting special children is so critical, a special workshop has been organised on October 15 at Sahyog Mandir, Thane. For more details contact Jidd School on 25427231.

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