Why Rituals? ~ Jasmine Sachdev

Since the last 6 months, thrice a week, on cool mornings or hot sunny afternoons, a bunch of kids at the Jamunwala Park stand in a circle, look into each other’s’ eyes, and walk and exchange places, or sit in a circle and catch an imaginary fish. These are just two of our rituals that we follow in each of our sessions with children at Khirkee as we make our first play together.

Rituals are characteristic to a space. A ritual holds and binds the space and makes the space what it is. Rituals are also at the heart of practice as theatre practitioners – it is consistent and central to the work we do with our children.

The Opening Ritual

Chhota Chuha

The opening circle includes revision of our norms through a song. The tiny rat (chotta chooha) comes in to remind us of the actions that will make the space, a safe and a happy space for everyone. We created the song to fit our purpose and are sharing it here with you. Feel free to pick up elements, change things around, and build it into your work with any chhota chuhas you might know.

chhota chooha chhota chooha
touch karne se pehle poochta hai
chhota chooha chhota chooha
Sabki baat sunta hai
chhota chooha chhota chooha
Aas paas ki cheezon ka dhyan rakhta hai
chhota chooha chhota chooha
Poore session ke liye rukta hai

Eyeballing

We all stand in a circle in neutral position, one person walks towards another person, looking into their eyes and takes their place while the other person does the same with the third person in the group and so on. This helps us to centre our energy and focus.

This is followed by other drama activities related to the objective of the session for that day.

The Closing Ritual

Once we are done with all the activities for the day, it is time for our closing circle.

We sit in a circle, breathing in and out (smell the roses and blow off the candle), calming ourselves down after all the energy and action and drama the session had.  

We reflect and share with the group a thing we did well and one thing we did not do well and will do better next time.

The session ends with playing Machli, where one person creates an imaginary machli with their hands and everyone has to catch it together when it jumps by clapping at the centre – it centres the group’s energies in the moment, bring the session to a complete circle.

Our journey with the rituals in this space has been an interesting one. There was a time last year when we had to call the children so many times to get to a point where we all are standing in the circle in a neutral position. Today, the children don’t need Devika or me or anyone else to do eyeballing. They lead it. A few sessions back, both Devika and I had to be out of the session in the beginning due to some other distractions around, the children did eyeballing by themselves and then we continued doing the rest of the activities with them. Earlier we were struggling with reflections as most would repeat just the sequence of the events that happened, however now the reflections are getting deeper and the kids have started identifying behavioural actions they do well and want to improve. They are taking turns in making imaginary machlis and successfully catching them together.

We(the children and the facilitators) are still learning and progressing and growing. At times, we still laugh or don’t listen attentively to others during their sharings and at times break into a small dance step at the end of our turn in eyeballing, but we get back to neutral again, try to listen again and hold the space for us and each other again.

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