Making ‘Dharma Chakra’ to Learn the Meaning Behind India’s Flag

These days, our home is abuzz with our country (India) related learning – reading, art, craft, and exploration. Besides being a part of our ongoing learning about countries and cultures, this entire project is meant to celebrate India’s Independence Day, which is on August 15.

Before this, Pari had painted a life-size self-portrait and designed her dress in India’s national flag colors. In between, she also made garlands out of different materials, and we discussed the significance of garlands in Hindu culture.

And toward the end of last week, we read in-depth about –

The symbolic meaning of India’s national flag

She learned that:

  • The Tri colors in the Indian national flag convey meaningful messages
  • Saffron (or orange) stands for courage and sacrifice
  • White conveys peace and truth
  • Green signifies fertility
  • the wheel at the center is called the ‘Dharma Chakra.’
  • the 24 spokes in the wheel stand for 24 hours a day
  • the blue of the spokes represents Ocean and Sky

To explain the Core Values of Courage, Sacrifice, Peace, Truth, and Fertility, I pointed out and narrated examples from her own life, the lives of friends and family, and the lives of national leaders- in a way that she could understand and appreciate.

And, when I asked her what she would like to make related to the National Flag, as I had expected – she said – the Chakra!

We discussed various ways she could make the Chakra or the Wheel

Diverse ideas came up, from cardboard to paper plates and even plates we use for meals.

And when I suggested she would like to make something with playdough, she frowned. My idea was to make our playdough and then make the wheel out of it. But she thought I was suggesting the ready-made, store-bought one. I smiled internally to see that she was inclined to make something herself. Perfect! What more could I want from my little girl?

But the mention of our homemade playdough sounded inspiring. So, off we went into the kitchen to look for options. There are many ways to make your playdough – cooked or uncooked. I made the uncooked version so she could do it as much as possible and enjoy some sensory play. Also, this version would allow her to use it immediately without waiting, etc. Another intention was to make it so it would harden nicely – just like clay.

We then discussed how to put together the wheel, including the spokes. It struck me that we have dozens of waste sketch pens or felt pens we could use as spokes.

But, first, the dough.

There is a gamut of recipes for the uncooked version we wanted to make, but we made our recipe d, depending on what we had available. We had to make enough for two chakras because Pari’s friend Sama wanted to make one too.

I had her mix:

  • One cup refined flour (maida) – 1 cup because that was all we had! We are not a refined-grain-eating family; hence, that quantity was around the last time we made shaving cream and flour playdough.
  • 3 cups rice flour. We could have used wheat flour, too, but I wanted to experiment with texture. I think rice flour, due to its granular texture, lends itself well to the sensory experience
  • One tablespoon of salt (some suggest more, but once, when we used more salt, the dough would not stick together)
  • One tablespoon of PVS glue (fevicol)
  • 1/4 cup fuller’s earth. Now, I would have preferred to use the plaster of Paris, but it went missing. So, I ended up using Fuller’s earth or Multani mitti, thinking it would aid in quick hardening -which it did.
  • Water. I can’t say for sure how much Pari used because she would not let me be by her side all the while. Once I gave her the stuff, she preferred doing it all alone. In between, when I came and checked, it  was a little extra soft, and that’s when I added some more rice flour
  • 1 Teaspoon oil

The ‘Chakra’ in Making!

With all the experience of rolling out real rotis in the kitchen, she had no difficulty rolling out this big a circle with me. She did it alone while I devoured her joy and clicked away to glory!

In between rolling, I shared some tips on how lifting and rotating can help get a good shape.

She placed the play dough circle on a stiff cardboard and outlined it to cut out a base.

This little girl has such an independent streak that she would not let me help her cut this stiff cardboard. And it was stiff for a 5.5-year-old. Even for an older id. I am also noticing how much of a hard worker she is becoming. Letting her do this part freaked me out because this board was rigid, and running the scissors through it was no minor deal. Even the other girl, Sama, who’s way older than Pari, wanted me to help her cut it as she could not persist. This reinforces my belief that it’s all about willpower and self-drive. Besides, it also reinforces what I have always believed – that we must praise our children for their effort rather than just praising the product of the effort.

She painted the play dough circle with white ceramic color.

In the near-last phase of the project, she ‘buried’ the sketch pens – 24 of them to represent the 24 spokes in the Chakra – into the play dough.

And the final touch was – painting the sketch pens or the spokes – blue. I had her use deep blue ceramic color for this. The ceramic color leaves a brilliant glossy finish after drying and looks fabulous.

After two days, today it’s as hard as a rock – ready to be hung on the wall. We will make a ribbon loop at the back to hang it.

Leave a Comment