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Mascot Happy makes debut

- Anjali Children’s Festival to go international this year

Bhubaneswar, July 31: Colourful streamers burst all around as a giant-sized smiley bounced out happily to the loud cheer of children in the capital. Meet Happy, the mascot for the Anjali Children’s Festival, which goes international this year.

The idea of having a mascot coincided with plans of adding a global dimension to the fun-filled event scheduled for November.

The organisers said over 50 children from 10 countries had already signed up for the annual fest. The countries include the US, Canada, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, Vietnam, Mauritius, Cambodia and Iran.

The latest edition to be held from November 2 to 6 would start with a carnival, in which both children and adults donning colourful costumes and fancy accessories would parade through the city.

The theme this year would be “Games and Imagination” where a magical “Toy Land” would help children translate their fantasies into reality.

The Toy Land would promote outdoor sports and physical activities that have clearly taken a backseat for the net-savvy, gadget-crazy generation.

“The special feature of the Toy Land is that there would be interactive games on a three-dimensional, textured surface. This would enable special kids suffering from visual, speech, hearing or developmental impairments to enjoy themselves. We also want to revive traditional games during the five-day event,” said Sruti Mohapatra, CEO and founder of Swabhimaan that has been organising the festival since 2001.

A children’s film festival, art exhibition, book fair and cultural programmes have been planned for this year. Great fun is in store for the participants, as they would celebrate various festivals such as Raja, Kartik Purnima, Durga Puja, Diwali, Holi and Christmas.

Today, the mascot was unveiled at a city hotel to remind children that their favourite time of the year is approaching.

“We decided to call him Happy to stress on an atmosphere of unbound joy and love that permeates the Anjali camp. The festival is an effort on our part to build an equal world by bridging the gap between general and differently-abled kids,” said Mohapatra.

State information commissioner Jagadananda, who was present today during the unveiling of Happy, said Anjali has been a successful movement in promoting an inclusive society where differences are celebrated and a model for joyful learning is established.

Swati Panda, a NRI from Boston, who had raised funds for the Anjali Children’s Festival in the foreign land, was honoured on the occasion. A small group of children from the US and Canada, who would participate in the fest, were also here today.

“I want to attend the Anjali camp because it makes kids happy,” said seven-year-old Mihika from the US.

The organisers have also started a group “Anjali International Festival” on social networking site Facebook to reach out to more children in foreign lands.