February 26, 2014
Beats of a drum and children chanting were heard recently across many of Room to Read’s school libraries within the Maharashtra state in India. The teachers and local school coordinators were experimenting with an idea they had to promote their school libraries and get more children entering their doors to discover the treasures contained within. To them, it was a marketing challenge and their response was a campaign that spoke to the local culture called Pustak Dindi.
Dindi is a popular folk dance of Maharashtra where performers come together in a circle to swing to the beat of a “dindi” drum. It’s a dance of devotion and the Pustak Dindi campaign would try to get students excited about their libraries and the books.
In order to make the campaign a success, the teachers gathered the students from grades 1 through 5 to be involved in the creative process. The school coordinators within Maharashtra made the palanquin, a covered transportation for one passenger that is made from a large box carried on two horizontal poles by four or six bearers. Children decorated the palanquin using colorful books from the library. Other children made signs for the procession with slogans that emphasized the importance of reading.
When the time came, the excited children carried the small palanquin, accompanied by the beat of the dindi drum, and paraded around the entire school grounds. The esteemed dignitary being carried in the palanquin were all the colorful library books! At every classroom, the procession halted to cheer and spread the message about the importance of books to any and all who would listen. No one was left out of the ceremonies!
Pustak Dindi was replicated across 75 Maharashtra schools with Room to Read school libraries (Room to Read has established more than 300 libraries in this region between 2011-2013). Since the promotions, the number of little feet who have come into the school libraries have increased which is an encouragement to all the teachers. A marketing success!
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