By Aditi Batra (Photos ©Ukti – The Delhi Waldorf School)
Ukti, the Delhi Waldorf School organised the 3rd edition of its Winter Fair in the school premises in Sector 128, Noida, on December 4, 2016. The Waldorf-inspired school opened its doors to Delhi NCR’s residents, welcoming them with a host of back-to-basics activities, foods and stalls. The purpose of the event, according to its convenor, Saloni Zutshi, also co founder of the school, was to celebrate life, nature, organics and simplicity. Speaking on the theme of the Winter Fair, Zutshi explained that “biodynamic farming is part of anthroposophy.”
The fair was the first of its kind in embodying environmental consciousness. There was near-zero use of plastic, solar lighting was used after dark, and all products displayed by exhibitors were handmade, organic and eco friendly.
“What the children eat, how the food is grown and how it’s cooked has a lot of impact on not just their physical development, but also their learning capabilities. Although farming is a subject taught in Grade 3 in Waldorf schools, at Ukti we wanted to bring this to the children from the start and through them to the parent community as well. We are so far removed in the cities from seasonal foods and grains other than wheat and rice. So, here we give one organic meal to the kindergarteners, where we introduce them to millets, ragi (finger millet) and jowar (sorghum). Furthermore, we have a bamboo grove, so children make their own knitting needles, which we are also selling at the Ukti stall,” said Zutshi at the fair.
Activities such as puppetry, woodcrafting, mandala weaving, finger knitting, lantern making, charkha*-spinning, horse-drawn carriage rides, kite flying and exciting games like sack running, hopscotch and kanche (marble lines) engaged visitors. While some were basking in the sun on charpoys and singing soulful songs, many were thronging to stalls as Muskotia Farms, Pure & Eco India, Native Roots, Jugaad, Daily Dump, Juhi Malhotra, Lotus Classic World, Natural Mama Body & Home Care Products, Stockmar, Beejom Farm Fresh, Jagrit Sambhav Foundation, the Ukti stall and more. This year, there were over 30 stalls inundated with products promoting natural, healthy and organic living.
In the open field, children oscillated on swings and hammocks, while interacting with a group of rambunctious geese. Within the school building, an interactive session on environmental solutions—such as air purifying plants, chemical free homes and self care, composting and waste management—was held, which saw participation from well informed and self motivated individuals. Concurrently, an animal welfare awareness session by Wildlife SOS, a non governmental organisation, enthralled adults and children alike.
Food stalls by ‘Dadi Ki Rasoi’, ‘Wichway The Sandwich Shuttle’ and ‘Millets for Health’ sold traditional winter foods like bajre ki kachori*, multigrain bread, homemade apple jam, millet idli*, ragi dosa*, ragi laddu*, baked goodies, etc.
The Ukti stall was a major attraction as everything on the table was handmade by Ukti’s own children and their parents and grandparents. There were lime and vegetable pickles, table mats, knitted balls, purses, bamboo knitting needles, wool finger puppets, felt fridge magnets, hairbands and wooden toys.
Zutshi conducted a school tour for fair visitors in the evening. She explained that the school follows the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Here, academics are presented in a well rounded manner by inviting the head, heart, and hands of the child. Broadening the focus beyond the intellect, children learn with their full selves, engaging their thoughts, feelings and movement. This holistic approach ensures every child develops a lifelong love for learning in a way that optimizes physical and mental health and well being.
“Our children bake bread every Monday. This year, they grew wheat, harvested it, ground it, made flour and after kneading the flour, they made the dough and then the bread. This was not a baking workshop, but it instils this feeling in the child that if I set out to do something with my hands, I can change things. This develops their will, which keeps getting strengthened in later years. But the foundation has been laid in the early years, you see,” said Zutshi, during the tour.
*Charkha: Spinning wheel
*Bajre ki kachori: Fried dumplings made of pearl millet
*Idli: Steamed rice cakes
*Ragi dosa: Finger millet pancake
*Ragi laddu: Sweet made of finger millet