Manuscript Extension for Young People

The Mission's activities are not only directed at preserving our heritage (as found in manuscripts) but also to make it meaningful to the present and the future. The involvement of youth, thus, becomes important. The Mission interacts with school children to introduce manuscripts to them and to generate their interest in our heritage at large.

So far, the Mission's school programme has covered two states—Delhi and Andhra Pradesh

Living Words

A theatre programme called Living Words was organised in 10 schools in Delhi with the help of Yellowcat Arts Company. The 45-minute performance in Hindi was called Laghu Mahabharata. Specific scenes of the story of Mahabharata were enacted followed by an interactive session with the children where manuscripts and photographs of manuscripts were shown to them. Then the children were organised into small groups and encouraged to perform skits based on characters from popular stories. The purpose was to introduce them to the fascinating world of manuscripts and how these wonderful stories reached us through manuscripts.

Patram

The school programme in Andhra Pradesh was organised in October 2006 in collaboration with The Children's Educational Academy, Hyderabad. Puppetry, a popular form of entertainment in Andhra, was chosen as the medium to communicate to the children. The show included well known stories of Krishnadevaraya and Tenali Raman as well as contemporary episodes involving school children. Throughout, the emphasis was on manuscripts, how oral traditions get transformed into manuscripts, the role of manuscripts in our lives and the neglect they face presently. The programme was extremely successful in generating students' interest in manuscripts—how does one write on palm leaves? What kinds of writing tools are used? How did symbols evolve into scripts?—are just some of the questions asked by students. The programme involved more than 1600 children in 126 schools in 11 districts in Andhra.

Kutuhala

A one-day workshop was conducted at the National Archives of India, as part of the fourth anniversary celebrations of the Mission in February 2007. 3 schools were invited to participate—Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan KG Marg, Kerala School Connaught Place and Kendriya Vidyalaya Gole Market. The highlight of the day was the guided tour to the exhibition of Indian manuscripts at the Archives. Dr. Abdul Gaffar, a calligrapher from Salarjung Museum, Hyderabad demonstrated different styles of cursive writing. Students were taught the use of calligraphy pens and Chinese ink for calligraphy. This was followed by an interactive theatre session with the students (by theatre group, Yellowcats Arts) where they were encouraged to enact characters from the Mahabharata.