In Focus

Here, The Children Sang Patriotic Songs This Republic Day

By A Draft Colaba Correspondent

Republic Day celebrations are incomplete without children. This year, however, owing to COVID-19 fears, children were not involved in most events and activities. In Cuffe Parade's Transit Camp, however, a few children got a chance to celebrate Republic Day as close to as what they would do in the previous years. Well...nearly!

SAMARITANS: Harak Bisht and wife Lakshmi (seated) addressing their 'students' during the Republic Day event

Social worker Harak Bisht organises Republic Day celebrations every year for the children he teaches through his 'Study Shed', complete with a weather-resistant roof, in Transit Camp. This year too, despite the limitations, he organised a programme with 100-odd children of all ages. The programme began at nine am at Transit Camp with the unfurling of the national flag.

Following the flag ceremony, a General Knowledge session was held for the children to inform them about the significance of Republic Day, some interesting facts about India's history, the importance of Cleanliness, Hygiene and the ongoing COVID-19 situation. 

FUN TIME: Children having a blast, albeit a wee toned down, this Republic Day

Accompanied by wife Lakshmi Bisht, son Akshay Bisht, teachers Amita Chand, Manisha Valmiki, Preeti Rai, Rajeshwari Kumari and helper Bhavna Bisht, Harak Bisht managed the event that was thoroughly enjoyed by the children and the organisers. "A few parents had also helped us organise the event," says Mr Bisht.

"This year, we could not hold the prize distribution ceremony during the Republic Day event as we couldn't organise events earlier due to the lockdown. Till date, the ceremony was held every year to motivate children and boost their morale," says 'Sir' Bisht. 

Ganesh Bungala
Among the guests present was Leading Hand Fireman of Naval Dockyard and Talwar Camp resident Ganesh Bungala who attends the programme every year. He spoke to the children about fire safety norms, fire prevention and about the significance of Republic Day.

A few cultural activities were conducted later that included singing of patriotic songs like Saare Jahan Se Achcha, Hum Honge Kamyab, etc., dance performances on patriotic songs and a play performed by five children who, through the play, explained the audience about the COVID-19 infection and how to keep safe in these times.

Mr Bisht has been working in the area since 1989 and organising the Republic Day event for the children for as many years. He teaches slum children from the nearby Ambedkar Nagar, Ganesh Murti Nagar, Dhobi Ghat areas. 

NO CHILD'S PLAY THIS: A performance on the dangers of COVID-19 at Transit Camp

"This year, we did not hold the Prabhat Feri also. A special feature of the celebrations every year, the Prabhat Feri was a walk undertaken by the children early morning on Republic Day starting from Transit Camp, winding through the roads of Cuffe Parade and ending at CPRA garden," notes Lakshmi Bisht.

"The children would really look forward to the walk every year as it was a lot of fun. We all missed it dearly this year. So, 150-175 children would walk carrying posters, singing songs, shouting slogans such as Ek Bano Nek Bano and spreading positive messages on the day. The idea for the walk was to encourage Desh Prem, knowledge of the country's history and a cultural touchdown along with a fun-filled picnic," offered wife and 'teacher' Lakshmi.

STUDY SHED: The Republic Day event for children underway as the older look on
The programme, this year, ended at 11.30 am with serving of refreshments that included the ceremonial vada pav, jalebis and biscuits.