Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Children must play!!
They look good while at play, when they learn while playing and play while learning. Playing is a part and parcel of child’s protocol, in fact an inseparable and mandatory part of child’s growth and development. One need not tell or guide or teach the child to play, it comes quite naturally and instinctively to the little ones.
Playing is the key for exploring and learning new things. It keeps the baby happy, healthy and fit. Playing is good for physical and mental health as well as for growth and development of the child. It also helps the child to socialize. Playing is a form of exercise to the growing child. Playing helps the child to express its emotions and talents; it is the early pointer towards healthy growth.
So basically it becomes so important for us, especially parents, the inner circle of the child and teachers to encourage the child to play and help in bringing innovation and education gradually into the play format.
Initially the child needs a safe playground or a play-station or an independent space to play at liberty. Along with the ground, variety of toys should be provided to the child while taking caution that harmful toys are not kept around the child.
Ayurvedic pediatrics was the first among the medical sciences to emphasize on these important aspects of the child’s development i.e. the need of playground (kreeda bhoomi) and toys (kreedanaka) which are child’s best friends.
Read related: Kumaragara: Children Ward (Room), Ayurvedic Perspective
Kreeda Bhoomi, the playground
Playing is important for the child, but the playground is equally important. Ayurveda has emphasized on the nature of playground which should be provided for the child to play. Utmost care should be taken to choose the area in which the child plays. It should be free from all sorts of risks and danger.
The characteristics of an ideal play ground have been explained as below –
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/75
Samaa – The ground should be even and leveled, safe enough to play. If the ground is not leveled and uneven, the child may fall and injure self.
Nishastra – The play ground should be devoid of sharp instruments which could injure the child while playing
Nirupala Sharkara – The ground should be devoid of dung, excreta, stones, dust, sand, the land should be sterile and safe. We know that an anxious and playful child tends to put anything in its vicinity into its mouth.
Vella Ooshana Kana Ambhobhihi Siktaa Nimba Udakena Vaa – The mud in the play ground should be sterilized and disinfected by spraying water mixed with paste or powder of Vella (Embelia ribes), Ooshana (black pepper) and Kana (Long pepper) or with Nimba Udaka (water boiled with neem leaves)
Kreedaanakani – Toys for the Children
Charaka Shareera 8/63
Ashtanga Sangraha Uttara Tantra 1/76
kashyapa Samhita Khila Sthana Jaata Karmottara Adhyaya 12
Below mentioned are the qualities of toys advisable to be kept in the vicinity of the child, usable for playing as explained by Ayurvedic texts –
Vichitrani – The toys should be available in wide range of attractive varieties, of many colors, of many shapes and sizes. When there is wide range of toys, the child will be attracted towards the toys, the child shows interest towards the toys and will keep itself engaged in playing.
Ghoshavantyaha – The toys should make various types of melodious sounds, musical toys of modern day can be included in this section. Children like and love music. Kids are naturally attracted by sounds. Toys should not produce unpleasant sounds.
Abhiraamani – The toys should be beautiful and attractive, pleasant to the eyes of the child. The more the toys are attractive, the more the child tries to own and play with it.
Aguruni – The toys should not be too heavy to carry. They should be easily movable and easy to handle by children. They should be light enough so that the children could carry them easily. Even if the toy slips and falls on part of child’s body, it shouldn’t hurt the child. This is possible only when the toy is light.
Ateekshnaagraani – The tip of the toys should not be pointed nor should the toy be sharp. Sharp and pointed toys hurt the child while playing leading to serious injuries and bleeding. The toys should be blunt.
Anaasya Pravesheeni – The toys should be large enough so as to not enter the mouth of the child when the child tries to swallow it. If the toys are too tiny, the child can easily swallow the toy. The toy gets choked in the throat and produce life threatening complications.
Aprana Haraani – The toys should not be lethal. They should be made up of such metals and colors and material which don’t cause toxic effect even if the child licks it.
Avitraasanaani – The toys should not be scary for the child. At the same time, they should not harm the child. They should also not produce sounds which are scary.
Vayo anukula – The toys should match the age of the child, should blend with and help in the physical and mental development of the child.
Jaatusham – The toys should be made up of laksha or lac. Laksha, according to Ayurveda is sheetala (cold in nature), rakta-pittaghna (destroys bleeding disorders caused due to vitiated combination of pitta and blood), jwara-nashaka (antipyretic), daha-shamaka (pacifies burning sensation), balya (strength promoting) and varnya (color-promoting). Even if the child happens to put the toy in the mouth or licks it, it would not be toxic and will not do any harm to the child. In fact it would have beneficial effect on the child.
Gava-Ashwaadi Mangalyam Atha Vaa Phalam – The toys should be in the form of cow, horse etc auspicious animals or in the shape of fruits. They can be having the shape of cow, horse, dog, cat etc animals, parrot etc birds and mango, plantains etc fruits. These shapes of toys keep the child attracted towards them. The child will also learn about the animals, birds and fruits on repeatedly playing and handling those toys. Therefore it is also learning process for children while playing with these toys.
Kashyapa’s description of toys –
Kashyapa is the master of Ayurvedic pediatrics. His area of expertise is child-care. The number and variety of toys mentioned by Kashyapa in Kashyapa Samhita hints towards the extensive knowledge of the art of toy-making, the variety and diversity with which the toys were made with precision, the materials and colors used to finish them, the concept of learning brought about in the form of toys (toys were made with purpose of playing and as study materials which helps the children in primary learning of basics of the materials in and around them), the knowledge of role of toys in physical and mental development of child and the importance given towards upbringing of child in a healthy and playful way blended with learning experience, fun and enjoyment.
The toys have been mentioned and elaborated in the context of Upaveshana (sitting the child) and Phala Prashana (feeding fruits to the child). The toys were also made out of ground / mashed rice or delicious dishes, good enough for the child to eat.
According to Kashyapa various types and shapes of toys should be prepared as per the liking of the child. They should be in the form of animals, birds, fruits, vegetables etc. These include the shape of cows, elephant, camel, horse, donkey, bull, ox, goat, sheep, deer, pig, monkey, bear, tiger, lion, cheetah, wolf, fox, turtle, fish, parrot, quail, duck, swan, peacock, , house, chariot, waterfalls, hills, trees, cucumber, mango, plantain, guava, ball etc. Toys shall also be gender specific. Special toys including those of utensils etc should be made keeping the interest of the girl child in mind.
Just Before Finishing –
Toys are child’s best friends and playgrounds are the first schools. The initial growth and development of the child and development of certain skills depend on the ability of the child to play with toys and the variety of toys available for them to play and also the quality time spent in the playground. The children explore experiment and learn from toys. They share their emotions with the toys as they grow up. Even grown up children make friends with toys and share their good and bad stories, emotions with them. This article focuses on the ancient wisdom of child-care through toys, the making of wide array of toys and precautions taken in using the materials and colors, making the toys child-friendly as explained in Ayurvedic texts. It also highlights the nature of playground and preparation of safe playground for the child to play!!
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