In an attempt to sensitize the university town about Autism, an often misdiagnosed neurological disorder that young children are prone to, the Volunteer Services Organization of Manipal University, held its annual kite-flying festival, Tarang at the End Point Football Ground on 2nd April, the UN World Autism Awareness Day.
Organized along the lines of a carnival, with an atmosphere that encouraged everyone to do some activity or the other, Tarang had multiple games, snack stalls, performances, photobooths, and a horde of activities for people of all ages to do. The crowd started pouring in at about 4:30 PM and within a few minutes, the sky was anything but blue, with kites of all sizes, shapes, make, and colours soaring in the sky. Although many complained of the kites not having the sturdiest build, kite-flying and the attempts to fly didn’t stop till the onset of dusk.
The festivities kicked continued, after a brief formal inauguration, which as in all outdoor activities, fell well after the event beginning. Mr. Kishore Alva, the Executive Director of Adani Power, the inaugurated the function and talked about organizing more events like Tarang which benefit the town in many ways. Social Awareness, Tourism, and University PR were among the things he talked about. The Guests of Honour, Dr. GK Prabhu, and Dr. Poornima Baliga, the Pro-Vice Chancellors of Manipal University also spoke in the function. The festival was formally inaugurated following the flying of the Mega Tarang, a huge kite made of cloth around the grounds.
Then followed a plethora of cultural events. A Zumba Session had the crowd rushing to the dias and had the audience hooked on to it till the end. Other performances like, streetplay, dance performances, music, and a standup act that ended in a standstill, kept the crowd occupied.
Tarang also aimed at showcasing the social service culture in Manipal and a display of all of VSO’s projects aimed at rural development took one part of the grounds. Also, The Rural India Project (TRIP) and The Queer & Ally Network, (Q&A) social initiatives of Manipal University participated in this event to showcase Manipal’s efforts in being a true pioneer in all-inclusive sense. Children from the surrounding Bijapur Slum, Asare and Hombelaku, home for children suffering from Autism, and the Srikrishna Balaniketana Orphanage in Udupi took part in the day’s activities.
As the day drew to a close, the crowd made its way out of the grounds after an eventful evening. However for the tireless VSO Volunteers, the event was far from over. They could be seen in a corner of the ground celebrating the success of the event with games and laughter following which a ‘Clean Manipal Campaign’ was held as it is every week, to clear the ground after the event.
The 5th edition of Tarang showcased how far VSO had come close to 10 years of their existence. Their events have gathered momentum and their invaluable contributions to the society are finally getting the limelight they deserve. “This is not the end. The activities are to continue for the rest of the semester and through the vacations,” says Anuja Joling, Convener of Tarang, talking about VSO’s activities, “Our time here is almost over, but I’m sure our juniors will keep VSO’s spirit high and partake in bigger and better activities in the years to come!
Navaneeth Ganesh | MIT Manipal (2015-2019)