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Thursday January 31, 2008

Kolam designing competition attracts non-Indians too


STUDENT Giam Yee Ai discovered that the traditional Indian art of creating kolam was an interesting and fun activity, but learnt that it required patience too.

“It took us some time to separate the non-coloured grains when we were mixing the rice grains with colouring,” said the 16-year-old student from SMK Raja Mahadi, Klang.

Giam, along with her Form Four schoolmates M. Shavitra, K. Bavani, Tan Shin-Yi and Woo Huei Yee, formed the Flying Feathers group, which was also the theme for their kolam.

Group effort: SMK Raja Mahadi, Klang, students (from left) M. Shavitra, K. Bavani, Giam Yee Ai, Tan Shin-Yi and Woo Huei Yee working on their kolam themed ‘Flying Feathers’, which features peacock and oil lamp elements.

“The theme relates to the peacock, which my Indian friends said was a pet of the Indian Gods, and also symbols of respect and worship. Besides the peacock, our design also has an oil lamp, another element from the Indian culture,” said Giam, whose group took two days to brainstorm the design for their kolam.

They were among the Malay, Indian and Chinese participants taking part in the Shah Alam 2008 Kolam Designing Competition held at the MBSA Sports Complex in Section 19, Shah Alam.

Selangor Education, Sports and Human Development Committee chairman and Kota Raja assemblyman Datuk Ahmad Nawawi M. Zin officiated at the event jointly organised by the Shah Alam Section 24 Residents Association (RA), the Klang District Girl Guides Association and Nawawi’s office.

“The event aims to promote unity among secondary school students and allow them to mingle among their peers,” said Section 24 RA chairman Muhammad Taufiq Abdullah.

“Each group comprises of five participants, and they’re required to create a 4 x 4 feet (1 x 1m) kolam. The medium used is up to them, but most would be using coloured rice.

“The participants are also allowed to bring or request guidance from a female parent or teacher.”

Taufiq said that the RA usually aims to organise four major events a year, with the idea of promoting unity and muhibah spirit, as well as creating awareness among participants about the country’s multi-racial culture.

Art and unity: Datuk Ahmad Nawawi M. Zin (right) putting the final touches on a kolam to mark the launch of the Shah Alam 2008 Kolam Designing Competition, while event sponsor Anuar Saad looks on.

“The kolam competition is our first event this year, and we’ll be having a veterans’ volleyball tournament next,” he said.

“Our first to fifth place winner will win prizes ranging from RM500 cash and certificates to RM100 cash and certificates, all of which were sponsored by local entrepreneur Anuar Saad, who owns and runs several business entities in Shah Alam.”

Klang District Girl Guides Association secretary and SMK Sultan Abdul Samad Girl Guides Association teacher Siti Aidah Mohd Barozah said a total of 13 schools from the Klang, Shah Alam and Kuala Langat districts registered for the event.

“The competition teaches the students to appreciate a form of art and to be creative. They’ll also learn about teamwork and mutual understanding among the races.

“The response to today's event has been encouraging, and we hope to organise a similar event next year on a bigger scale and open it to the public (with no age limit),” she said.

Nawawi praised the organisers and Anuar for organising a community event that would foster a closer relationship and encourage assimilation among a multi-racial society.

“It’s best that members of society are taught from young about the importance of fostering close relationships and that it’s not difficult to learn another person’s culture,” he said, citing an example of Chinese and Indian women wearing baju kurung at functions and offices.

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