Ahimsa: A toy story

 How do you learn about non-violence from waste materials? IITian-turned-toymaker Subid Ahimsa is the best person to answer the seemingly innocent question.

Published: 16th January 2019 01:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th January 2019 02:15 AM   |  A+A-

Students at the toymaking workshop led by Subid Ahimsa

By Express News Service

KOCHI: How do you learn about non-violence from waste materials? IITian-turned-toymaker Subid Ahimsa is the best person to answer the seemingly innocent question. He was in the city for a workshop organised alongside the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Through making toys from ‘waste’ or low-cost/easily-available materials, Subid is trying to spread the spirit of ‘ahimsa’. “Toys create happiness, the first gift to a child, the best next to care. I wish to spread the message of non-violence for a peaceful world,” he says. “I have chosen toys as a good media to communicate this. It would be great if anyone is interested to develop this work.”

Addressing a session on toy-making using waste material, he tells participants at the art room in Fort Kochi’s Cabral Yard on Monday that children have been his teachers, giving him fresh ideas. “In all my workshops, I may not be sure if I am imparting any ideas to the kids, but I always gain something new from them,” shares Subid who was trained in toy-making from Arvind Gupta, a pioneer in making toys out of ordinary materials. “I consider him as well my guru, and the my manual.”

Subid finds the present-day education system “very bookish” with the capability of killing one’s ability to learn. “This two-day workshop is an attempt to give confidence to children that they can create anything if they have the determination and zeal. Also, it makes them understand that importance of waste management,” says Subid.

The workshop on January 14 and 15 was organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation as part of its ABC (Art By Children) programme that finds the participation by adults as well. 
Paper fans, puppets, flutes made of straw, magic paper wands, spinning toys using old CDs and flying toys are some of the things Subid makes to spread his message. “Toys made are repairable, giving valuable lessons of self-reliance and sustainability. The process teaches values like care, share, patience and teamwork,” says Subid.

“We have to realise the usefulness of the things we throw away,” says the toymaker, who hails from Valancherry in Malappuram.

At the Biennale workshop, Bengaluru native Anvesha K, a class-3 student who is in Kochi on a break, is drawn to the interactive workshop. She plans to spend the day here. “I am enjoying myself,” she says “Never thought so many interesting toys could be made using  CDs, which I generally throw.”
Preethi Nair, a mother of an eight-year-old, says some of the lessons are “very interesting with valuable lessons for us parents. Most of us spend hundreds of rupees in each toy we buy for our kids whereas one could make it themselves with everyday material,” she says.


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