Champak is a children’s fortnightly magazine named after a tropical flower. It has been on the scene from 1968 being published by Delhi Press Group. Today Champak is available in eight languages – Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam. Its founder is Vishwa Nath (1917-2002).
Champak consists of modern stories for children with a moral tone. It does not try to smuggle in adult folk tales as stuff for children. Champak continues to remain a household name and a hot favourite for seniors of today who were green fans of Champak yesterday. It is not unusual to see grandparents rifle through the satchels of grandchildren in search of a copy. .
What is the reason behind this sustained success story of Champak even today when the TV seems to be gobbling up all the attention of children and adults alike? It is a fact that reading habits have taken a nosedive. For this parents are concerned. But Champak continues to merrily rule. Firstly the covers are very attractive. One copy has the sun rising behind the humps of a curious camel. There is a young painter splashing with colours in front being supervised by a nosy dog. The magazine is in the attractive form of a booklet that will stand up to the wear and tear of young fingers. The contents page is a fantasy world of marching animals – a lion on a throne, a wily fox trying to pass for a fortuneteller and a mouse with a school bag. It is the animation of animals with characters like Inspector Leopard that has won over hearts. Champak is also the name of a forest called Champak-van. It takes back the imagination to our lost forests and the fast vanishing time when man was at one with the animals and felt for them deeply and empathetically. Above all Champak continues to sell because compared to the market the price is extremely reasonable.
Champak consists of three sections – Stories, Picture Stories and Your Page. The groups are not rigidly separated but intermingle to give the reader relief. For instance jokes and puzzles might pop up from the bottom of the page. The comics are colourful. Some of the characters like Cheeku the rabbit and Meeku the mouse have become immortal with each passing generation. Champak teases out the creativity of children by inviting them to healthy competitions and asking them to send in jokes. It is not without its news where in one issue Children’s Festival has been reviewed. Behind the fun and merriment Champak slowly draws the reader into the world of knowledge like plain facts about planes and why clapping lead to a loud sound does. If you want to know why bees buzz and why leaves fall in autumn try going through one of the latest copies of Champak. There are brainteasers like spotting a mistake and challenges asking the cat to find the mouse through a maze of holes in a brick wall. Joining the dots is fun for all ages. There is also a page for the very young. In one issue the little one has to identify the animal from its outlined shadow. Each glossy page has a coloured picture. There are games galore like Champak Chekers.
Champak is not left behind in this age of computers. There is the Champak multimedia edition as well as Champak Jogo Disk containing games, wallpapers, screen savers, animation, coloring and click and paint. Competition and contributions are not always by snail mail. There is the option of sending your answer via sms. Champak has an E-Mail address and a website.
Champak has another great point in its favor. While marching with the computer cum mobile age Champak has not allowed itself to be trampled by the advertisement industry. Parents will be thankful to note that whatever little advertising is there in the issues, these are clean and not harmful. On the positive side there are many tips and references on other similar books and purchases that can be made for budding minds. It is only by flipping through the pages of Champak that the hungry reader will come to know that such publications exist. So the vote is for Champak – whether from the adult or the child.