by Rajesh Khare
In a world dominated by technology and screens, it's refreshing to see children engaging in hands-on activities that stimulate creativity, teamwork, and cultural awareness. The “Diwali Killa” activity at the Cultural and Language at School of the India Society of Worcester (ISW) has been a shining example of this. The tradition of building Diwali Killa is especially popular in Maharashtra, where it has been a cherished part of the festival for generations in honor of Shivaji Maharaj, the prominent Indian warrior king and the founder of the Maratha Empire in western India in the 17th century.
The term "killa" refers to a fort in Marathi, one of the prominent languages spoken in the Indian state of Maharashtra. These forts, with their formidable walls and strategic positioning, played a pivotal role in India's history. Every Diwali, the Killa activity is a way to introduce children to the rich cultural heritage of India, specifically through the lens of its historical architecture.
Participants in the Killa activity are given a set of basic materials including soil, bricks, water, recycled plastic etc.. Armed with these supplies and guided by their imaginations, the children set out to recreate the essence of a traditional Indian fort. The creativity and attention to detail exhibited by the young builders are truly remarkable.
Building a Killa requires teamwork and problem-solving skills. Children work together, assigning tasks, sharing ideas, and collaborating to bring their vision to life. This effort not only enhances their social skills but also fosters a sense of collaboration and mutual respect. Participants also learn about architectural principles, historical significance, and the engineering challenges faced by the builders of the actual forts.
By combining education with play, this initiative inspired by their cultural roots transcends borders, fosters a sense of unity, understanding, and pride among the participants. As an example of community-driven cultural enrichment, the Killa building activity stands as a testament to the positive impact that such initiatives can have on the lives of young individuals.