KARACHI: The Mama Parsi Girl’s High School campus became a global village on Thursday, when its classrooms were converted into cultural manifestations of 18 different countries.
The event, which was the result of a four-month-long effort of around 700 students of the afternoon shift, marked the institution’s 95th anniversary.
As two grade-10 students, Kisa Fatima Jafri and Rabika Asif, guided the way from one pavilion to another, the journey was akin to a delightful experience of a world tour that Jules Verne perhaps would have described as ‘around the world in one go’. The informative material arranged for each country was almost encyclopaedic in nature and will be on display for the next three days.
Students of Mama Parsi Girl’s High School dressed up in the traditional attire of their designated countries. One of the students was dressed as a Brazilian woman (left) while another was dressed as a Thai fruit vendor (right). PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/ EXPRESS
Parvin Rabadi, the headmistress of the afternoon shift since 1991, stood proud as she explained the aim behind the exhibition. “By engaging in this extracurricular activity, our students have learned a lot of new things on diversity in culture, language and religion – facts that are usually missed out in the textbooks,” she told The Express Tribune.
At the entrance of the Indian exhibit, two grade-four students, clad in silk saris, greeted the guests with a polite ‘namaste’. Inside the classroom, several students, dressed in traditional Indian attire, performed dance sequences on Bollywood songs. Next to them was a dining table on which an assortment of Indian curries had been set in a traditional thali.
Students had also arranged a hand-pulled Kolkata rickshaw that was introduced in India during the early 20th century. A Banyan tree was on display, which is said to be the resting place for the Hindu God, Krishna. “Hindu women tie threads around its bark to pray for the sanctity of their husband’s lives and in order to get the same groom for several births to come,” explained Anjum Ahmed, an English teacher at the school.
Apart from original Indian outfits and jewellery on display, the culture and history of the neighbouring country was depicted at a myriad of sections, including monuments, festivals, mythology, film industry, history, politics and government.
In the adjacent pavilion, the Iranian culture was on display. Nasreen, one of the teachers, had brought a 125-year-old samavar, belonging to her great grandmother. The metal container, used to heat and boil water to make tea, is well-suited to tea-drinking in a communal setting. The tea culture associated with Iran is maintained by expatriates around the world. An assortment of Iranian dishes was also on offer, including doogh – a drink made of yogurt, Shirazi salad and Chelo kebab.
Further on, a floor spread was set up for Aghd [Persian marriage], comprising several kinds of food and decorations, referred to as Sofreh Aghd, explained a fifth grader, Mariam Tanzeel Khan, who was dressed in a traditional white bridal dress.
In the midst of the tour, the guides, Kisa and Fatima, explained that people across the world shared a lot more common traits than differences. “We all share a common goal for a better world. To achieve this end, we can work together or supplement and appreciate each other’s efforts.”
The school’s principal, Furengeez Tampal, who has been associated with the institution for the past 23 years, believed that the 95-year-old institution had been successful in continuing its mission to impart holistic and affordable education to the Karachi’s girls.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th,2013.