Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Short Visit into the Past

It was an “as usual” Sunday. The friends who would have otherwise slept in their homes were called to Thiruvannamalai for being a member of a group which had planned to have a short visit into the past.

As per Dakshin and Kalyani it was a sudden idea as they had visited the ‘Perumal’ temple in a place called ‘Chengam’ only two days before that Sunday. There they happened to see the paintings in the roof of the main hall, describing the Legend of Ramayana. The paintings are of nearly five hundred years old. Unfortunately the natural paintings are almost destroyed and it was told to them that the temple authorities are planning for renovating the temple which would indeed cause in washing away the antiques with newness and without knowing their values. There came their idea to take some children to the temple so as to introduce them the beautiful past which is there present but may not be there in the future.

Here is again our Sunday. When all of us gathered near the sacred hill of Thiruvannamalai, we were a good team to explore the beauty of the past (as well as the past of the beauty!). Let me introduce the team first… there were Dakshin and Kalyani as navigators; twenty one children from the village of Alampundi; James who facilitate the functioning of the Eco-Art centre for children in Alampundi; three volunteers from Italy who are now working with the children of ‘Alampundi Eco-Art centre’ in their own innovative ways; and myself.

As I told you the visit was planned to visit the ‘Perumal’ temple of ‘Chengam’, a place which is 30 kilometers far from Thiruvannamalai. It was really a musical journey as the children kept on singing on our way to the temple.

When we reached the temple, the mid-day sun was there above the tower to welcome all of us. Dakshin gave a small introduction to the children about the purpose of our visit and a little about the temple (Especially the greatness of that big wooden door!). There was only a little shadow in the temple premises for all the bare-foots to stay cool. By that time the door was opened to enter the main hall. The whole team must have experienced a kind of quantum leap into the past when entered the main hall.

When everyone were into the beauty of the past, Dakshin started explaining the facts about the temple, the King who built it, when it was built, what is depicted on those paintings, how it would have been drawn, what might be the materials used, and it went on. When he was about to finish, almost all the team members were lying down on the floor and were comfortably (!) looking at the paintings of the roof.

But our mission has made us to wake up and work. All the children were given a chart and a pencil each and were asked to draw any object or painting of that temple. They really enjoyed the task and started exploring the artist inside. After sometime there were lots of artists tracing down the past in their charts. It was an authentic trial to save the past so as to present it to the future.
We could manage to get some red soil, leaves and flowers by the time the young artists finish their mission. Then started a fresh task to introduce a form of Eco-art to the children, i.e., to create paintings with natural materials. Dakshin came out with an expert show by explaining different forms of paintings that can be done with red soil, leaves and flowers. Both the children and we the elder(!) people have become the ‘amazed-spectators’ of the show.

The children were allowed to experiment the new eco-art for some more time before closing the doors of the past. There was an ending session to share all our experiences and excitements.

The children made again the way back a musical one and our time machine stopped when we were dropped in our worlds.

When we were back to our places, I just thought it was not an “as usual” Sunday.

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