The Competition

Vivek thoroughly enjoyed Children’s Day Celebrations at school, every year. He had fun playing with his friends and chatting with them all day long.

Since the school always organised cultural programmes on this day, the whole
school buzzed with activities that started early morning.

But this year, the schools were shut in the wake of coronavirus and the children were stuck at home.

Vivek was upset as he would miss all the fun that he would have on Children’s Day.

“What is it, why are you upset?” asked Grandma.

“It is nothing, Grandma,” replied Vivek.

“Tell mem Vivek. I may be able to help you in some way,” suggested Grandma.

“Grandma, I was thinking about the celebrations in school for Children’s Day and how much fun we had every year. This year, it is so quiet and the schools are shut. Where is the fun in celebrating Children’s Day like this?” said Vivek sadly.

“Is that why you are upset? I think I may have a solution to your problem,” said Grandma.

“What is it, Grandma, tell me fast,” Vivek pleaded impatiently.

“My friend runs an institute called Child Development Institute and this year, they are organising an online Elocution Competition on the occasion of Children’s Day. The winner of this competition and all the participants will be awarded by the organisation. The speech has to be based on the life of Chacha Nehru,” explained Grandma.

As soon as Vivek heard about the Elocution Competition, he started sweating and became very nervous.

“What happened to you? Don’t you wish to participate? It is an excellent opportunity and you can showcase your talent to a huge audience,” Grandma encouraged Vivek.

“Grandma, it’s just that…,” Vivek wanted to say something but he couldn’t.

“Tell me what is it?” Grandma asked again.

“Grandma, I am scared of speaking in public. Whenever I try to speak in front of an audience, I start sweating, my hands and legs start shaking and my voice trembles,” Vivek explained his fear.

“Is that so? Don’t be scared. I will teach you how to speak in public,” Grandma offered.

“Are you sure, Grandma? You think I can learn to talk in front of an audience?” Vivek asked with excitement.

“Yes, why not! All you need to do is have confidence in yourself. Also, you will need to improve your knowledge of the subject you are going to talk about. Then, you have to practice speaking in front of a mirror and you need to look yourself in the eye and speak. If you do this, you will do really well,” Grandma explained.

This made Vivek very happy and he hugged Grandma.

He wrote his speech on the given topic with Grandma’s help. He then took the paper to his room and started practising in front of the mirror.

In the beginning, he found it difficult, but soon he realised that he could speak fluently without fear.

He continued to practice speaking in front of the mirror and soon he had no fear of speaking.

Grandma’s encouragement had helped him to raise his confidence.

On Children’s Day, Grandma video recorded Vivek’s speech for the competition.

Vivek spoke with great confidence. He narrated various interesting incidents related to Chacha Nehru’s life, “Chacha Nehru was fond of red roses and the children called him Chacha affectionately. He loved children a lot and it is on Jawaharlal Nehru’s Birthday that Children’s Day is celebrated. Chacha Nehru appreciated children who were brave, strong and full of confidence.”

After his speech, Grandma congratulated him saying, “Your speech was exceptional. You were scared for no reason at all. Look how you have overcome your fear of taking in front of an audience. I am sure you will win this competition.”

Then Grandma sent Vivek’s recording as a competition entry.

The same evening, she received a call from the institute and they informed her that Vivek had won the competition and that he had stood first.

When Grandma told Vivek about it he was extremely happy. He gave his Grandma the credit for his win and thanked her.

“I am sure this Children’s Day will be memorable for you always,” said Grandma.

“Yes, I will always remember this day. I was worried for no reason.”

“We should always look for opportunities and make efforts to learn new things. Hard work always brings success. Chacha Nehru always encouraged children to work hard,” said Grandma.

Vivek started honing his skills to give more public speeches and to make himself a better orator.

Gautam’s Children’s Day

Gautam had a peculiar habit of never listening to any topic fully. One day, Mummy asked him to buy potato chips from the market. However, due to his habit, he did not hear her properly and bought potatoes instead of potato chips.

That day Mummy was fasting. In the evening, when she opened the shopping bag to take out the chips to break her fast, she was surprised to find potatoes instead.
“I had asked you to bring potato chips, not potatoes. How many times have I told you to listen carefully to what is being said?” Mummy scolded Gautam.

The market was closed now and it was impossible to get the potato chips.

In his class too, Gautam did the same. Whenever the teacher questioned him, he would start replying even before the teacher completed the question. The answer would be wrong and he would often get scolded.

The school decided to celebrate Children’s Day this year. The students were preparing diligently as the best performers would get an award.

“Gautam, have you started preparing for the Children’s Day?” his friend Tanmay asked.

“I have been preparing for it for many days, my friend. I am sure this year’s first prize would be bagged by me,” replied Gautam, confidently.

As the Children’s Day drew near, the children grew more excited.

“What happened, Gautam? You look very troubled,” asked Dr Sinha when he saw Gautam in his clinic. Gautam visited him for regular check-ups.

“Doctor, I am really very troubled. My whole head is itching. I do not know what has happened to me?” said Gautam as he sat on the stool in front of the Doctor.

“A terrible stench is coming from your body. Your hair also has grown too long. Don’t you go for your regular haircut?” Dr Sinha asked while examining him.

“I have not had a haircut in a long time, because I want to win the first prize in the Children’s Day celebrations this year. I am sure I will be declared the winner because of my long hair.”

Dr Sinha laughed heartily when he heard Gautam’s reason for not getting a haircut.

“What is the connection between Children’s Day and the hair on your head?” he asked.

“Children’s Day is a day dedicated to children. On this day activities are organised and it is not a competition of the longest hair.”

“It seems I did not hear the announcement properly about the Children’s Day celebration. And in the effort of growing my hair long, I have an itchy head.” Gautam was ashamed of himself.

Dr Sinha prescribed a few medicines and said, “First go and get a haircut. Then have a good bath and apply these medicines on your scalp.”

Gautam did as he was advised and soon his itchiness vanished. Since he didn’t want to tell Mummy about his stupidity, he spent all his pocket money on the medicines.

Children’s Day was now only two days away. All children were ready and prepared with poetry recitation, storytelling and more.

“What are you going to do for the Children’s Day, Gautam? Or are you going to just sit around?” Mummy asked.

He thought of lying to her but then he decided to tell her everything about how he had planned to grow his hair long and expected to win the first prize and how he had not prepared for anything else.

“I do not know what I can do? I have not prepared anything and don’t know anything,” he added.

Mummy thought for a while and then said, “You are a very good dancer. You can put up a dance performance and maybe you will enjoy your time and show off your talent. It is not necessary to win, but you will have fun.”

This encouraged Gautam. He knew he couldn’t do any last-minute practice so he decided to do whatever comes to mind as he was good at dancing.

He hurriedly dressed and rushed to school.

“Where were you, Gautam? We were all waiting for you,” his friends said as they were waiting at the registration table.

Since Gautam had registered his entry last, his turn to perform came at the very end. But he was motivated.

Finally, his name was announced and he gave a very thrilling dance performance.

The whole hall gave him loud applause and he was awarded the first prize. He was overjoyed.

He decided that henceforth he will pay attention to announcements or instructions and not jump to conclusions so that he does not make a fool of himself again


All the animals were busy preparing for the Diwali celebration.

They were all allotted a different task to oversee. Chinku bear was given the task of collecting glowworms to light up the forest. He had collected many and was lovingly taking care of them.

On the night of Diwali, he had to place them on the trees, which would then be illuminated, appearing as if a thousand lamps were flickering around.

Mintu monkey had to arrange for firecrackers. He had already bought different kinds of crackers from the market and had safely stored them.

Gittu elephant had to collect decoration items and he too had completed his task.

Rangoli fox had to make the rangoli, just like her name.

Two days before Diwali, everyone gathered at the venue along with the things they were responsible for.

Rory rabbit sat in the centre and inspected the materials. He praised everyone for their work. When Mintu took out the firecrackers, Rory frowned and said, “I do not like these things at all.”

Mintu was annoyed and said to him, “Rory, if you do not like these crackers, then you can go to the city and buy those of your choice.”

Gittu said, “Relax, Mintu!”

“No, I want to know what is wrong with the crackers I have brought,” said Mintu.

He was upset that the crackers he had bought so thoughtfully, had been rejected by Rory.

“Mintu, you completely misunderstood me. There is nothing wrong with these crackers or you. The problem lies with the harm the crackers do to us. I had expected that you would bring crackers that would cause less noise and air pollution. If we burst the ones you bought, the pollution levels will increase as much as in the cities. And we know that pollution is harmful to us,” explained Rory.

“How does that happen when we burst these crackers?” asked Mintu.

“The smoke that comes out when we burn them, pollutes the air. This in turn causes harm to our nose, ears, throat, eyes and skin. And the loud sound it creates, damages our ears and brain,” said Rory.

“But how can we celebrate Diwali without crackers? Our Diwali will be joyless and pointless.”

“I have a good suggestion. Let’s all go to the nearby cybercafé,” said Rangoli.
“Why?” asked Chinku.

“She is planning on showing us pictures of firecrackers. Hahaha…” said Mintu jokingly.

“No! I will show you all the beauty of firecrackers, which you will enjoy, without the pollution,” said Rangoli.

“How?” asked Gittu.

“By celebrating e-Diwali.”

“What is e-Diwali?” asked Rory.

“Let’s go to Genny giraffe’s cybercafé. We will be able to see and enjoy the bursting of crackers and a lot more. We can see it as many times as we want and control the volume too,” suggested Rangoli.

“That is a great idea. Let’s go now,” said Chinku, excitedly.

And they all joyfully went to Genny’s cybercafé to celebrate a pollution-free Diwali.

Flying Rangoli!

All the animals and birds in Champakvan forest lived happily and peacefully under the rule of their king, lion Shersingh.

Every year, Shersingh organized the Champakvan Festival during Diwali week.

The festival included competitions such as rangoli making, floral and light decorations, games and drama. There would be a delicious feast for all the inhabitants of Champakvan. They would also visit their family and friends with gifts.

The week-long festival would end with a prize distribution ceremony for winners of all the competitions at a grand finale of the celebrations.

This year too, they had a great time during the festival! And finally, the much-awaited grand finale was being organized at the bank of the forest river.

It was a pleasant afternoon. All the inhabitants were gathered at the river bank. It had just stopped drizzling. Peacocks gathered there were dancing in joy. Nandu mynah enthralled the gathering with her melodious songs. Naughty monkeys played and ran about with each other.

When king Shersingh arrived at the bank with his advisor Jumpy monkey, everybody greeted him. After casually interacting with some animals, he sat on a rock under the banyan tree.

“We have been celebrating our Annual Champakvan Festival every Diwali for many years. Like every year, we organized competitions in various categories.” After a pause, he continued, “I hope everyone enjoyed all the events like dance, music, drama, sports and the eating competitions, as much as I did! I personally judged many programmes and shows performed in the last few days. But before I reveal the names of the winners, I have a big surprise for you – an event neither seen nor imagined before! Please put your hands together for a very special performance by our dearest, Chameli butterfly and her team!”

Chameli, the pretty butterfly, came fluttering in front of them with hundreds of butterflies, dragonflies and moths Flapping around, they synchronized their movements to form beautiful patterns above the river in the air! Then, they queued up separately based on their colours.

The moths made red, blue, orange, yellow, white, brown, purple lines. Slowly, they started coming together. Chameli remained at the center fluttering her wings first. The line of red moths circled her. The blue, orange, yellow, white, brown and purple team-members of Chameli followed, and made different coloured patterns circling one after another. Finally, in front of the inhabitants was a big rangoli in the air.

Now, the colourful rangoli flew about in different angles in perfect synchronized steps. Nandu mynah enhanced their movement with her songs. Nobody had seen a flying rangoli before!

Chameli and her team enthralled the audience till the sunset, and as the evening set in, they slowly started disappearing. To everyone’s surprise though, after a few minutes, the butterflies and dragonflies came before them with thousands of fireflies joining them, forming shapes of diyas, depicting an illuminated world!

“Wonderful!” exclaimed King Shersingh. Everyone gave a huge round of applause for Chameli and her team.

In a few minutes, as planned by Jumpy monkey, the rabbits and deers of the forest lit diyas all around. From the river, Indu swan came out looking beautiful. “Diwali is the festival of lights- victory of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance,” she said, addressing everyone.

Jumbo elephant distributed sweets to all. Baddy fox and team opened the non-polluting fireworks. The king had banned the use of noisy crackers to avoid sound pollution. However, crackers that lit up with minimal noise were permitted.

It was now time for the feast. All the animals had carried something from their homes. Nayana squirell and Chandni parrot arranged the food for everyone.

After the celebrations were over, the Shersingh appreciated Chameli and team for their magnificent performance and presented them a beautiful honey pot decorated with jasmine flowers. He then distributed prizes to the winners of Diwali competitions. Nobody could control their laugh when Jumbo elephant was declared the Best Eater! Each participant got a bouquet as a token of appreciation by the king. The king then, thanked the organizers and the audience for making the celebration a great success!

Champakvan celebrated its annual Diwali festival in a special way – brightly, generously and deliciously!

“Happy Diwali!” cheered everyone, as the night fell