Are you looking for ways to introduce Gandhi to kids through simple DIYs? How about a DIY Mahatma Gandhi charkha?
Here is the step by step methods to how I prepared a Mahatma Gandhi charkha model or a Gandhi spinning wheel at home to teach my kid about Gandhiji.
2nd October is just around the corner. The day when the great mahatma was born, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of our nation.
When you speak of Gandhiji, the image of a khadi-clad, bespectacled man with a stick in his hand is what comes up in your mind. Another image that comes up is that of him spinning the charkha or the spinning wheel.
What is the charkha?
Charkha, in Hindi, literally means a wheel. Basically, charkha is a spinning wheel used to spin thread or yarn from cotton balls.
Charkha is mainly made up of wood. The wheel, the base and the spindle holder make up the parts of the charkha which are assembled together.
There are many versions of the charkha. The one that Gandhiji used had a handle to spun the thread.
What is between Gandhiji and charkha?
Gandhiji was a great advocate of swadeshi goods,ie; things manufactured within the country. He encouraged people to give up foreign goods especially foreign clothes which were made in England from the cotton exported out of the country. Handloom khadi was his only choice in clothing. He spun his own handloom and made it into dhoti. That’s why his charkha accompanied him everywhere.
A Mahatma Gandhi charkha, as we call it today, was thus always a part of Gandhiji.
For him, spinning was a medium for spiritual upliftment. He considered that spinning one’s own clothes was a symbol of self-help and self-reliance. Through spinning, he tried to project the dignity of labour. He was so much attached to the charkha that he wished to die with his hand at the spinning wheel.
Significance of charkha according to Gandhiji:
Gandhiji held the charkha to be a symbol of the swadeshi movement. He was convinced that spinning and weaving would make a significant contribution to the economic development of the country. A skill that can do wonders for the country. And hence for him, charkha was the symbol of the nation’s prosperity and therefore freedom.
Charkha was given a new meaning and interpretation by Gandhiji. For him, the charkha was ‘the ever-moving wheel of the divine law of love’.
He not only encouraged the people of India to spin and weave their own cloth and boycott foreign goods but himself practiced it. Khadi was his preferred method of clothing.
Spinning and weaving for him meant self-reliance and self-governance.
Charkha was so much a part of the swadeshi movement and hence the freedom movement that it found a place on the Indian flag too. Current Indian flag consists of Asoka chakra at the middle, but before that it was the Mahatma Gandhi charkha that adorned the center of the Indian flag during the freedom struggle days and the flag was called the swaraj flag.
The idea of putting charkha in the flag was also put forward by Gandhi as he wanted to promote swadeshi goods and spinning.
If your child is older enough, you can show him a picture of the old Indian flag with the charkha and do a brief history of the evolution of the flag and the freedom struggle led by Gandhiji.
Do charkhas exist now?
There are a lot of miniature ones that craftsmen make which mainly serve as memoirs or souvenir. The actual ones are hardly used these days.
Why wear handloom?
Khadi or khaddar or handloom is the outcome of weaving. Recently the government of India had started a campaign to support handloom. The whole intention of this program was to support our weavers. Like Gandhiji said , handloom can bring about a huge difference to our economy. Wear handloom and support our weavers to save this art from dying.
Some benefits of wearing handloom are :
- Its eco-friendly
- It’s ideal for both summer and winter wear
- You are supporting your weaver friends
- Completely organic
- Safe for your skin
DIY Mahatma Gandhi Charkha:
Because the charkha carried such a legend with itself, this Gandhi Jayanti , I decided to introduce the Mahatma to my preschooler through a DIY Mahatma Gandhi Charkha.
She is too small to know who he is and what was his contribution to the country. But her curious eyes caught this spinning wheel while I was trying to show her some images of Gandhiji. And hence I decided to make a miniature charkha for her and tell her how and what it was used for.
This piece of craft takes very less time and it’s a fun activity to do with your child and it makes use of the best from waste at home.
What do you need?
- Few popsicle sticks- around 10 to 12
- A cardboard box
- A pair of scissors
- A thick thread
- Brown paint
How to make?
Step 1: Place the popsicle sticks as shown to form a wheel-like structure. Stick them at the centre and allow it to dry for a few minutes.
Step 2: Use two popsicle sticks to make the holder of the wheel.
Step 3: Make the base of the charkha by cutting out a rectangular portion from the cardboard box.
Step 4: Make two adjacent holes to hold the stand of the wheel.
Step 5: At about 4 inches from these 2 holes place two smaller pieces of popsicle sticks to look like this. And a stick a popsicle stick horizontally to the cardboard to as shown in the figure.
Step 6: Place the wheel as shown below.
Step 7: Paint it brown to give it a wooden look.
Step 8:Place the thread over the wheel as shown.
Your Mahatma Gandhi charkha model is ready.
Quick tip: If you wish to paint the popsicle sticks before hand, it will give it a uniformity. Painting it later makes it a little difficult .
What your kid can do in this DIY task?
For older kids, say above 6 years, you can just give them instructions on how to make the charkha and guide them through the process. Let them make it themselves with your guidance and the step by step pics shown here. Make sure to assist them properly while using scissors or else you can do the cutting part for them.
If your child is younger, you can make the charkha for them. But painting the popsicle sticks and cardboard stand can be left to them. It will be fun for them to do a little painting.
How to use your DIY charkha to talk about Mahatma Gandhi?
Once your miniature charkha is all set and ready, explain the different parts of the charkha to your child like the wheel, the holder and show them how the yarn is spun out of this machine.
Show your kid the famous picture of Gandhi with the charkha or the photo of Gandhi spinning yarn. Talk to them about who is in the picture and why he is spinning his own yarn. Explain in simple ways about Gandhi. Like he was a great person who believed that one should do things by themselves. He used to make his own clothes. He was humble and preached nonviolence. He is respected for that. He led the freedom struggle.
Couple it with some videos online and show them some Gandhiji clips. Visuals always make a lasting impression on the kids.
For older kids, you can take this DIY opportunity to talk to them about famous quotes by Mahatma Gandhi.
So this was my humble attempt to introduce my daughter to Gandhiji through one of his favourites, the Charkha.
Do try out this DIY Mahatma Gandhi charkha for this Gandhi Jayanthi and teach your kids about Gandhiji, The Father of our nation.
How did you introduce Gandhiji to your kids?
Have you talked to your kids about the freedom struggle and how Gandhi helped us achieve freedom?
Do write to us in comments.