We have all heard tales of the epic villains from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. However, a school teacher in Karnataka has developed special characters, through puppets, to teach children the harmful consequences of pollution.
Sidappa Virabhadrappa Biradar, a science teacher at the Government High School, Chibbalageri, in Karnataka, started using puppets in his classes to teach essential concepts, such as the food chain and global warming and was amazed to see the changes in his students, who he says became captivated upon seeing the dolls.
The ability of his puppets to communicate ideas in a way that was easily understandable inspired him to use them to send a powerful message about the environment.
The stories he tells, range from the lotus and sun, lovers who are torn apart by carbon dioxide after industrialisation, to Plastikasura, a demon who embodies a harmful material that has poisoned the animals in the wild. This story was conceptualised by Professor S. A. Krishnaiah, an art historian, and written by Ambatanaya Mudradi, along with Mr. Sidappa.
These creative stories serve not to enforce unattainable goals, but rather, to form an awareness of the need to be conscious about human actions and the subsequent effect on the environment.
“Plastic has become an inevitable part of our lives. I am not saying we must give it up completely, but that we should learn how to use it responsibly and recycle whenever possible,” says Sidappa.
Today, Sidappa and his team of twenty-five puppeteers, who call themselves the Hongirana Puppet Team, perform across many states, including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Goa. There, they weave imaginative stories around the environment, India’s freedom struggle, and even traditional tales from the Mahabharata to both young and old alike.
He has created 350 glove, string, and rod puppets, which he actively uses across his many productions.
His organisation, called Hongirana Puppets, also organises a summer camp to teach children the art of puppet making and imaginative storytelling.
“We only have one earth. It is our home, and it is our responsibility to teach our children to protect it and take responsibility for our actions,” he adds.
For more information on the Hongirana Puppets, and how you can get involved, visit www.hongiranapuppets.com or call +91 94802 68131