| The rhino at the entrance to the school. Telegraph picture n See G1 and G2 |
Jorhat, Feb. 14: Enter the premises of Jonaki Sangha Vidyalay here on Saraswati Puja tomorrow and you will be in for a surprise.
Students and teachers of this school have erected a statue of the endangered one-horned rhino.
Goddess Saraswati is also there in all her glory, surrounded by species of endangered birds in an environment filled with flowers.
The students will this time not only pray for knowledge but also for protection of wildlife and the environment. Shashi Prabha Borgohain, the principal, said the idea took shape when a student, Moni Kundal Bora, made a peacock to be displayed in school.
“I wondered if a rhino could also be made in the same way and we decided the theme for this Saraswati Puja would be wildlife and environment protection, given the large number of rhinos being killed this year. I brought a wooden rhino from home and Bora started to work on it. Other teachers and students also pitched in with Makhan Chandra Bora, our mathematics teacher, making the frame from bamboo,” Borgohain said. “The model was covered with hessian cloth and coated with cement and paint. Everyone did their bit in painting the eyes, ears and horn. We also decided the students should wear badges with the picture of a rhino and ‘Save Me’ written underneath on cardboard slips of paper,” she added.
The rhino model will be placed as a sentinel in front of the school with the words “Muk na mariba (please don’t kill me)” on top of it, according to Borgohain.
The gateway made of knitted bamboo strips and straw has the peacock made by Bora on top with a board reading “Save Kaziranga” in Assamese. The principal said the goddess has been placed in the midst of flowers and trees made by the children.
“We have extended the theme to showcase the environment and different birds like the endangered hornbill and egret strategically as part of the scenery,” Borgohain said.
The surroundings are decorated with a pond with thermocol lotuses in one place and lotuses scattered over a marshy area. Students of Classes V to X have been informed how and where the different flowers and animals are to be found, she said.
“Every year students make something or the other and these are preserved so they can be re-used. In this way, a lot of things related to our environment have found a place in the decoration. The idol of the goddess is also not immersed. For the first time, parents have been invited to see what their children have made,” Borgohain said.