‘Catch them young and watch them grow’ is the aim of ‘Petul’ — an annual event organised by the Konkani Bhasha Mandal (KBM), that involves cultural performances, books, music, all aimed at promoting Konkani language and literature among children.
Petul, as the name suggests, is a treasure trove of knowledge, literature and also promotes the Konkani language among children.
IT STARTED WITH A CD
Started in the year 2013 with the release of the Konkani music CD, Shaani Masti, and its second edition in 2015 along with the release of children’s books, this further gave rise to Petul in Margao, in the year 2015.
It has now reached every nook and corner of Goa.
This year, the event was held in Margao, Quepem, Curchorem, Sanquelim and Pernem. Next, it will be held on February 26, 2023 at Shri Shradhanand Primary School, in Canacona; and on February 28, 2023 at Shri Dev Bodgeshwar Sansthan Hall, Mapusa.
More than 3,000 children from various schools are part of Petul now.
Petul, which is a cultural event, involves school children who sing, dance and perform based on Konkani songs.
It starts by inviting schools where the event is held. The children are given a song from the Shaani Masti CD to perform. The event is primarily conducted by children, and the guests felicitate the performing schools.
This is an innovative way of involving children with literature and also nurturing their hidden talents from a young age.
Along with this event, there is an exhibition of its CDs, pen drives and all the material of the KBM, which has been created to promote the Konkani language.
While speaking about the journey of Petul, president of KBM, Anwesha Singbal, mentioned that it all started in 2012 during the Medium of Instruction (MoI) agitation which KBM was part of.
“At that time, many schools were shifting from Konkani medium to English medium. So, many parents would say to ask us ‘You say that we need to teach our children in our mother tongue. But, what material do we have in Konkani?’ That made us think, and we started discussions with organisations such as NCERT, Pratham Books, Ektara, to name a few. And we, at KBM, thought that we should concentrate on creating children’s literature and educational material in Konkani for schools and students in particular. This is how Petul began,” she explains.
The KBM first worked on creating the Shaani Masti CD. Recently, they released the seventh edition, bringing the total number of Konkani songs on their CDs to more than 70.
Petul is now considered one of the most successful events for children.
“The reason for it is because the entire programme is designed, keeping in mind children’s interests. Also what I feel is that we hardly get an opportunity to dance to songs that belong to us. Even at annual school gatherings, I have seen children dancing to Hindi songs, the meaning of which they hardly know. The Konkani songs, which we have created, have subjects related to children. So they understand the essence of that song.
“Also, the event is purely voluntary as children come up with their own costumes, etc. And, we mainly select government primary schools which hardly get an opportunity to perform at big venues like Ravindra Bhavan. So, I believe it is a huge opportunity for them,” says she.
IMPORTANCE OF MOTHER TONGUE
Anwesha maintains that it is necessary for a child to learn about its mother tongue and its literature as this helps in his/her healthy growth.
“When a child is confident and comfortable with the mother tongue, it gives them confidence to converse in any language. It is very important for parents and teachers to inculcate this habit of reading among children. For that, we need to sing a song, read stories to them, narrate a poem to them, in order to develop their interest. This is what we are trying to do with Petul,” says Anwesha.
Regarding usage of technology, Anwesha says it can be used in a better way, such as animation videos on YouTube and online educational resources which were made during COVID-19.
Says she, “We need to understand that technology, social media is now part of our life. But, we need to create material for children using this same technology.”
Speaking about the future plans of Petul, Anwesha states that they are planning to release the eighth edition of the Shaani Masti CD, educational material based on the new educational policy for pre-primary and primary school children by making nursery rhymes, poems, etc.
They also plan to release original Konkani books and story books translated in Konkani, and conduct Petul outside Goa, where there is a Konkani-speaking community.