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COVID-19 lockdown: Chennai historian keeps children busy with stories about kings and palaces

Pradeep Chakravarthy is conducting online story-telling lessons on Zoom for children

The COVID-19 lockdown is keeping children at home, and keeping many bored. At Sevalaya, an organisation that runs a home for children, boredom had set in, until the children began listening to stories about various kings of Tamil Nadu from historian Pradeep Chakravarthy and even learning a bit of cooking.

Vasanthi, who has been promoted to class 7 recently, said she loved to listen to stories and that the sessions with the historian were interesting. “His accent is more on the stories rather than the dates. He spoke about the Tanjore Periya Koil (Brihadeeswara temple) and various kings including Sarfoji, who ensured girls too, went to schools. He also told us how Thanjavur was the place where art forms thrived,” she said.

Another Sevalaya resident, Kripa, who goes to class 10 this year said she liked the photographs of various palaces, forts and temples and the details he gave. “It was very unlike the classes at school. He also taught us things that we don’t learn in our books. Though he speaks in English, we are able to comprehend very well,” she said.

Mr. Chakravarthy said the idea was that of Prabakar Kadavasal from Oyster Montessori to have online story-telling lessons since their children were bored. “There were other parents, who were interested and numbers then just grew. Then there was a request from Sevalaya too. So we let them also join on Zoom sessions. After the English sessions are over, we will be holding Tamil sessions for them. I will be doing sessions for SOS Children’s Village in Tambaram too. We didn’t fix any fees, the parents can give any amount, even a token amount is fine as Guru dakshina. The idea is to keep the children engaged and at the same time let them learn history on their own. The children ask questions both during and after the lectures,” he said.

The historian holds hour-long sessions over Zoom and any child in the age group of 9-14 can join after getting in touch with Ranjith of Swathi Soft Solutions on 9600098839 The sessions would be held for another week.

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