1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
• The pandemic made us depend a lot on different technological portals and information tools.
• PCs and laptops were essential for research, data organization and video editing purposes.
• Applications such as Google Drive, Zoom, YouTube and Video Editor were used for sharing and storing information, organizing virtual meetings, compiling and editing the videos.
• Devices like mic and headphone were necessary for effective communication and dialogue delivery, cameras were used for recording and smartphones for further research and activities.
• As an information tool, Google search engine proved to be very helpful.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Celebrating the divine femininity in a social and cultural construct is a beautiful concept to work upon. We wanted our endeavour to be both holistic and all-encompassing. This is why, as ambassadors and spokespersons, our team had students ranging from pre-school to standard 9. We wanted this essence to reach a diverse age group. For the drama named ‘Synergy’, after writing the script based on mythological data, we presented our drama on an online meeting platform. Viewers included parents and teachers. It was followed by a group discussion. Keeping visual knowledge presentation in mind, students staged a fashion show wherein they showcased the evolution of trends and fashion during the celebration of Durga Puja. Others identified, conducted interviews and collected photographs of families associated with the festival in accordance with the traditional customs of Bengal. The families were glad to share their information. Interviews with civic professionals, artisans, ‘dhaki’ community and social workers were conducted and interviewees were apprised about the theme and significance of the project. As ambassadors and spokespersons of this project, we tried to ensure that we reached out to the most that we could.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
We are glad to have created the impact that we had intended to have. The impact was first on ourselves when we became more aware about the mythological stories behind the festival celebrating Goddess Durga. Students along with the extended community became acquainted with the rich mythology backdrop behind this celebration and its relevance in the modern times. The themes of Unity in Strength in the present-day scenario struck a chord with everyone. On the other hand, the artisans, artists, sergeants of traffic police and the families celebrating the festival, felt honoured and took pride in giving their valuable inputs that helped us in the project. They were glad that the perspective of Durga Puja from different points of view across social and economic strata were being showcased. Durga Puja is celebrated all over West Bengal. It brings the community together whilst leaving a different and nuanced footprint across society. We are happy that this project made our extended community become conscious of this ‘footprint’.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, movement was quite restricted. Although we could not venture out as extensively as we wanted to, yet our teachers have been a big help and guiding light throughout the entire project by volunteering and reviewing our activities. Parent communities of our school have actively supported us throughout this endeavour in all possible ways. We appreciate that each member of the school and our elders never hesitated to lend us a helping hand. The artisans, ‘dhaki’ community, civic professionals, social workers and interviewee families were kind and assisted us in shaping our vision.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
• Discoveries: Every step involved in gathering information from the families about various traditions and their significance in the modern world was an enriching experience and a discovery in its own way. We discovered that a study of the traditions could be interpreted from the ecological, economic, architectural and even egalitarian points of view.
• Lessons: Many lessons on Life Skills were learnt from the ‘dhaki’ community, artisans and the Officers of the Kolkata Police Department. Creating beautiful idols and pandals which also have a story to tell requires skills more than one. Also, to ensure smooth functioning of the city amidst a grand celebration requires multifaceted expertise. We understood the immense work that they do and applaud for the same.
• Surprises: Our team was surprised to know that every household organizing Durga Puja has some traditions and rituals which are unique to that particular household. In some families, the animal who acts as the ‘vahana’ of Goddess Durga, isn’t necessarily the lion. The colour of the idol also has a history behind it. It ranges from white to beige and coral. The knowledge of these unique customs has indeed added an element of surprise to our learning experience.