When I first read up on the Manganiyar classroom on the Internet, I did not really know what to expect. There was a lot of pre-conceived expectation since I had already seen the Manganiyar Seduction by Roystien a couple of years back and to quote myself “my jaws were hung in awe throughout the show”
So, when all good things happen, the universe aligned itself Shiwani booked my tickets while I draped myself in a sari and went to Rangashankara, our local but truly inspirational theatre auditorium.
Manganiyar classrooms, a collaboration of 35-40 kids from the land of the Manganiyar’s, showing us how deplorable our education system is. We try to take away the talent they are born with and teach them math science geography. Culture in education should be a subject where a child can proudly showcase the genes they carry and hone them to show them to the world. 8-year-olds breaking into a song, dancing with joy and creating the urgency of the change we need to see in our attitude and schooling.
Memories of a talk I sat through not so long ago, floated in my mind. A talk by Rta Chisti, where she and a few in the crowd lamented that by educating an artists child the system has completely removed the traces of art, craft and design from these kids. We see this happening to a weavers kid, miniature painter’s kid or a Manganiar’s kid.
The Manganiyar classrooms offers a demonstration of these naturally talented young singers who are synchronising their beats with the maestro with so much energy. A tiny smile on their face while they are wishing their friend happy birthday, breaking into a dance when they advice you to think before you say and always say good things, allows us to see how much we are missing in the name of western education.
A fearless performance, with unrestricted dance steps, a hand gesture, standing on the table, tapping their foot in rhythms, banging their hand on the table made the entire auditorium dance, clap, laugh at their antiques and appreciate their talent.
There is something magical when a child be it yours or someone in the next village who’s immense talent and confidence is being honed by their elders and ancestors. Hats off to groups like Bhoomija and Can&Able and many such projects who project culture to us, the uneducated.