BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 20: Puppeteers in Assam will not only pull strings but also start a campaign to popularize the age-old art form among the younger generation on Tuesday to celebrate World Puppetry Day in a more befitting manner.
The World Puppetry Day is celebrated on March 21. The idea was first floated by puppet theater artiste Javad Zolfaghari from Iran. Since 2003, the puppetry day is being celebrated every year.
Surojit Academy, a Guwahati-based cultural institute and NGO, will approach Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal with the plea to popularize puppetry among school and college students so as to discover hidden talents.
“Puppetry is a strong medium that can be used for teaching. Many school children believe in what they see and if puppetry can be used for instructing them, they will learn fast. My personal experience with children from different background has made me realize that many of them learn faster when puppetry is used as a teaching tool,” Binita Devi, principal of Surojit Academy told The Sentinel on Monday.
Surojit Academy, having a collaboration with the Union Ministry of Culture, will organize a function at District Library auditorium in the city on Tuesday evening to stage Ankiya Naat of Vaishnavite Saint Srimanta Sankardeva, stories of literary genius Lakshminath Bezbaruah and folk dances of Assam through puppetry. “Since Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has consented to grace our function, we will take the opportunity to make a plea before him to popularize puppetry in schools and colleges in the State. We will also start a campaign to revive this dying art,” Binita Devi said.
According to her, puppetry is a dynamic art that appeals to people of all ages. It is an engaging act that serves as a link between lessons and play. In western countries, people are reinventing this tradition. In America, puppets are used to deliver medicines in hospitals, soothe patients at trauma centres and for sex education in schools. She said unfortunately such a brilliant art form is dying in Assam and many other parts of the country.
Binita Devi said puppetry could be an effective mode of communication and her academy would continue efforts to revive the art and make it relevant. “That can only be done if we turn the traditional into influential, for which we will need the support of the government. We have full faith in the Assam chief minister and hope that he would help to popularize puppetry,” she said.