Science in Festival Time…

September 2, 2008 -part I  

Today was the day prior to Ganesh Chaturthi holidays that the children were to have for a week. The children were engrossed in making pictures of Ganesh in their rough books. Flower business picks up during this season as there is a demand for these flowers for pooja. It was very interesting to see how the Std IV teacher used this occasion to get her children to think of the various flowers that one sees in the market during this time( the children were brainstorming over the work book question on Summer and Winter flowers, fruits and vegetables in the first chapter of Unit I, class 4 text book). During Ganesh Chaturthii, Red flowers like hibiscus are offered to the deity along with durva grass also known as known as arugam pul in Tamil, Dhub, Durva and Haritali in Hindi. Other flowers that are offered include Milkweed flower known as Arka in Hindi and Eruku or Erukkum Poo in South India and Jilledi in Eastern India. The teacher appeared to have a fairly good knowledge about the  fruit, vegetable and flower highlights of the season evident in certain interesting responses like ‘summer oranges are sweet and winter oranges are sour’ when a student brought up the topic of oranges. In the light of this observation, I would like to point out how an inquiry based curriculum like Small Science provides the teachers and students leeway to bring in local knowledge and contexts into the classroom. Although this might demand extra efforts on the teachers part to look for ‘extra information’ it is fruitful in the long run because children are able to relate to the information that they get.

Here are some resource books for flowers and trees in India which might be good for schools to keep in their libraries:

  1. Flowers of Sahyadri, Shrikant Ingalhalikar, Corolla Publications: Pune, 1995
  2. Flowering trees in India, M.S. Randhawa, 1957. The entire book is freely available online in the following website:
  3. Plants that Heal Vol. 1, J. C. Kurian, Oriental Watchmen Publishing House: Pune, 1995.
  4. Groves of Beauty and Plenty: An Atlas of Major Flowering Trees in India,  M. S. Swaminathan & S. L. Kochhar, Macmillan India, 2006.
  5.  A good website that has information on Indian flowers is

— Aswathy Raveendran


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