PUPPETRY

Spring Dales comes forward to revive the dying art of puppetry

The penchant of the management, staff and students of Spring Dale Senior School for the arts has once again proved to be a saving grace for a dying art—this time the once popular art of puppetry, which is now dying a slow death due to lack of encouragement from the government regardless of the fact that it could prove to be a potent tool for promoting literacy among the masses.
 
Besides this, the craft also faces challenges from the state-of-the-art gadgets that have managed to pull children, who once comprised an eager audience, for the stories narrated through it, away from it.
 
The school, which is known for reviving and patronizing various art forms, came to its rescue, in the form of a puppetry workshop conducted by Mr Ramesh Pawar, an experienced puppeteer and puppet maker from Jaipur, Rajasthan. Mr Pawar has more than 36 years experience in the art of making puppets and conducting puppet shows and workshops in schools.
 
Ironically, for in the absence of government support, Mr Pawar has been forced to lead a life of penury and has to drift from one place to another in search of work. “The government hardly extends any support to the puppeteers. Consequently, this art is on the brink of extinction,” says this experienced puppeteer, who currently supports his family of six, by working as a security in charge in an Apple showroom in Jaipur.
 
“Students should evince interest in puppetry as it would benefit them in many ways. The government should also realize the potential of this art form especially in the field of education and should take measures to promote it,” Mr Pawar says.
 
However, the government only seems to remember him whenever it needs him for some temporary assignments in the villages in Rajasthan. Besides this, the tourist season is the only other time of the year that this seasoned puppeteer gets a chance to earn a living but putting his skills to use for making puppets that he sells to tourists. “It keeps me in touch with my prime vocation, but does not help much financially,” he said.
 
Mr Rajiv Kumar Sharma, Principal, Spring Dale Senior School, said that watching Mr Pawar at work was a real treat. “He sculpts his puppets from waster paper and fenugreek (methi) seeds, besides using threads, colours, et al to make his puppets,” he said. He added that the workshop was organized with the aim of teaching the educators the art of making puppets for use as functional aids for classroom teaching.
 
Dr Kirat Sandhu Cheema, Director, Spring Dale Senior School, and Mr Sahiljit Singh Sandhu, Managing Trustee, Spring Dale Educational Society, said that the institution was always on the lookout for such talent, which required patrons. “Heritage and crafts go hand in hand and are very close to our hearts. If promoted properly, these could prove to be effective tools in spreading literacy and bringing about the desired change in the society,” they said. They reiterated their commitment to discover and support such artists and art forms to uphold and maintain the country’s heritage.
 
 
Spring Dale Senior School