Shaurya

When he cycles around his residential gated community, Shaurya Mehrotra, despite his age, looks as eager as a teenager enjoying his outing.

Shift to his Banana Studio, also in Gurugram. In his self-named haven, the 32-year old potter and artist diligently concentrate on creating, exhibiting, and selling his signature artworks. He is often dressed in red, his favourite colour, and attired in jeans, a t-shirt, and a cap.  

Go back to over three decades. Born in January 1988 in Lucknow, while recuperating in the hospital from neonatal jaundice, the baby boy contracted septicaemia. His critical condition necessitated oxygen and life-saving drugs. Almost six weeks later, the ‘miracle baby’ as termed by the hospital staff, showed signs of recovery. That’s when his Nani named him Shaurya, literally, the Brave One. 

“When Shaurya was eight months old, while visiting my in-laws in Ranikhet, the family doctor broke the news to us that he was a Down’s Syndrome child. Anil and I were shaken, but our love and acceptance for our son ran too deep. In our eyes he was a special gift from God,” recollects his mother Nina.

Posted in Alwar, Rajasthan, the Mehrotras started visiting a series of doctors and specialists. To them, Down’s Syndrome was a vaguely known condition. A leading paediatrician in the capital painted a very bleak picture about Shaurya’s development and growth, saying he would be like a ‘vegetable’ all his life. 

“We were traumatised, not knowing whom to turn to. Weekends were spent in Delhi for intensive intervention therapies for Shaurya. Simultaneously, homoeopathy helped build his immunity. For the first 10 years, he had frequent bouts of respiratory infections. His milestones were delayed. He started walking at two, while his speech was next to none,” continues Nina.

The parents, Nina and Anil, very stoically trained their son to master basic self-help skills like bathing, dressing, eating, and the critical toilet training. “His weak muscle tone and cognition challenges limited his movement and skills. He had major fears of loud sounds, darkness, animals, trees, machines – and doctors and hospitals. Therapy, over time, coupled with patience and space to recover has enabled him to overcome these phobias. Shaurya’s strengths continue to be his deep affection for his family, and his loving and expressive, child-like behaviour and the ability to overcome all challenges,” details Nina.

Due to Anil’s frequent postings, Shaurya adapted well to every new city they moved to. His fondness for music, dance and colours came to the fore in his early years. He enjoys being outdoors, and in the company of friends.

“We all walk to the beat of our own drum and so do our kids. Special kids reach their milestones at their own pace and one can only marvel at the level of independence they achieve in the face of challenging odds. Shaurya has a hero-like status in our family as he has overcome hurdles to reach where he is today. Most of his therapies – physio, occupational, vocational and speech were in his growing-up years,” states Anil.

While Shaurya attended special or integrated schools, his parents realised very early on that other than their functional use, academics were not for him. Building on his fondness for colours, Nina started him on making cards and bookmarks for family and friends. 

Shaurya’s journey as a potter and artist began at 19 when the Mehrotras were posted in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 2007. He joined pottery classes at the Lake Farm Centre for special needs. Under the guidance of professional potter Brenda Davis who later became Shaurya’s mentor, he created small handmade pieces. Three years later, when transferred to Bangkok, Shaurya trained under Khun Gaew at her Poteri hobby center. Shaurya’s happy spirit and willingness to learn culminated into “My Take” his first solo exhibition of 30 clay artworks at the Nelson Hayes Gallery in 2011. Since then, there has been no looking back for him.  

Upon returning to India in 2013, the Mehrotras set-up a pottery and art studio for Shaurya in Gurugram’s Sector 49. The interior of the vibrantly colourful ‘Banana Studio’ was designed by architect and good friend Shradha Bhandari. Soon after, Anil’s job meant a move to Beijing for two years. 

Since returning home again in 2016, Shaurya goes diligently to Banana Studio daily, accompanied by Nina. “Shaurya has blossomed here, making his and our dreams become reality. Since then he has showcased his pieces in Epicenter, participated in Finext 2017 in Indore, and also in Ceramic fest 2017, 2018 & 2019 at Sanskrit Kendra organised by Delhi Blue Pottery Trust. In 2018 he collaborated with 42 potters as part of ‘Woven Together’ initiated by eminent potter Ruby Jhunjhunwala in Jaipur, followed by the Ecapa exhibition in 2019. In February 2020, Banana Studio was invited by the India Art Fair2020 to conduct an inclusion workshop for special needs. Additionally, he keeps busy with crafting pieces during Rakhi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali and Christmas.

“Simultaneously, in 2018, BBC WORLD did a video coverage on Shaurya the Potter and Banana Studio, adding a tall feather in his cap. Made us the proudest and happiest parents in the world,” recollects Nina. 

The young man has since become quite a celebrity, being featured in various print and online media.

Cars are a passion – be it remote-control cars, which he enjoys charging and changing batteries of – and car racing on his play station. Drives with his Dad are special father-and-son bonding time. TV favourites are Tintin and Fast and the Furious series.

Holidaying with mother Nina and father Anil Mehrotra

Some Learnings

As advice to other parents in a similar position, Nina suggests, “It is very important to follow a daily schedule planned in the morning with our kids. It makes their day easy and predictable so they know what comes next. This helps them process information faster and most goals are met.”

Training to be independent in self-help skills may sometimes continue until adulthood due to several reasons. One has to balance between program goals and activities which allow a child to have ‘Me Time’ to do what he enjoys, sometimes perceived as a reward by the child, but mostly seen as a given.

“Do take them out for varied experiences. Social get-togethers, shopping in malls, eating out in restaurants, cinema, holidays and sporting events. Give them every opportunity to interact with the environment. This goes a long way in making them understand the world and improving their social skills,” the mother says.  

“As our children look up to us as their role models, it’s natural we participate with them – while enforcing discipline about timings, hygiene, and social behaviours. This is a challenge for parents. Patience helps. A recent example was when Shaurya did not want to wear a mask outdoors during our afternoon walks. I explained that he can open his mask every five minutes to feel better, and then wear it again. He has got used to this without complaining. Showing others wearing masks, including photos of friends and family has helped,” describes Nina.

Shaurya loves Chinese cuisine, pizza and chocolate ice cream at restaurants and pubs. Dancing, which he learnt from the famed Shiamak Dawar, is a passion, and he invariably finds a dancing partner. In addition, online yoga keeps him fit. 

“Delving deeper into his nature, he has the ability to recognise people who are genuinely interested in him, and forges deep bonds of love and caring with those who reach out to him. There is a sense of calmness and peace in his presence which is truly soul-lifting. Towards us, there is an acceptance and unconditional love of the purest kind. Most parents of special needs will relate to this,” adds Anil.

Signing off with these words, Anil concludes, “Beyond his evolution, this story will be incomplete if I don’t share how he has impacted us. Living and growing with Shaurya, Nina and I have realised that ‘LOVE’ is the single most powerful energy that can shape the world. Shaurya has taught us forbearance, tolerance, empathy and living in the present – above all, the sheer joy of being – backed by his sense of humour. As Shaurya’s parents, we feel blessed daily. Yes, we have come a long way with him, and we want him to be a part of our lives forever.” 

Follow Shaurya on Facebook And Instagram

https://bananastudio.in

Amita Sarwal
Amita Sarwal

After an erratic 10-year practice as a homeopathic doctor, Amita took to writing in 1973.  Her 45+ year career encompasses contributions to a very extensive gamut of magazines and newspapers- in India and abroad-on lifestyle, travel, architecture, personalities, book, and restaurant reviews, etc.  
During her 21 years based in Singapore, she was an Editor with the renowned publisher Editions Didier Millet and completed six pictorial encyclopedias on Indonesia and Malaysia among other coffee table books.  Her personal passion was writing ‘The spirit of SKV’- Chronicle of a Girls’ School to mark the Golden Jubliee (2006) of her alma mater Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior.
Now Amita has an increasingly strong focus on featuring Changemakers/Unsung heroes of India who are helping make a difference to society-“because the world needs to know about their exemplary work.”  Yoga, social work to help the underprivileged, reading and collecting forms of Lord Ganesh also keep her busy.


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Text by Amita Sarwal
Photographs courtesy Banana Studio, Gurugram

146 thoughts on “Shaurya”

  1. Wonderful article on Shaurya’s amazing life story and journey as an artist. Salute to his parents patience & perseverance

    1. A wonderful story of a family’s journey. The parents need to be applauded for the positive and encouraging way they have taught Shaurya to be independent, and to instill a sense of purpose,in his life. May God bless Shaurya with many more success in the future.

  2. Truly an inspiring and inspiring story about Shaurya, .written by Amita. Enjoyed reading about Shaurya’s early life and his hobbies and passions.

  3. Amita,it was a pleasure reading about Shaurya’s immence talent and his many achievements! Shaurya’s zest for life, since the day he was born is commendable and kudos to his parents Nina and Anil for the huge support system in every phase of his life! Amita,you have beautifully and lovingly potrayed Shaurya’s life till now! I am lucky to see ever smiling Shaurya often, cycling in our Condominium with so much confidence! Wishing him all the Best in life….

  4. It was truly a pleasure to read this article and see how talented and gifted Shaurya is. Despite his struggles it’s always a pleasure to see Shaurya smiling , playing and being gregarious when outside.

  5. Empathetic write up about God’own child Shaurya.Watching him cycling is a real pleasure.
    Thankyou Amitaji for letting us know about Shaurya as well as his wonderful parents.

  6. Shaurya and his parents are not only an inspiration to mankind but an evidence to the world that really goes well with the current scenario…
    “Trust the wait, embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible….”

  7. As parents of a 33 year old Downs Syndrome daughter … can relate to every word in this beautifully written piece … especially those of the parents ! Ours is a “dancing queen” ( also with Shiamak Devar lineage) whose performances at her sister’s recent wedding had everyone spellbound !! Yes … they are gifts of God who only bring happiness and peace to whom ever is fortunate to be a part of their lives . God Bless(es) Shaurya and all specially challenged children…

    1. Was happy and proud to witness Chandini’s dancing skills – with so much abandonment and joy – at her sister’s wedding last year. You and Sarina have also been very special, exemplary parents. God bless!

  8. Amazing to know about Sharya Nina and Anil
    They surely are special children of God. How
    They have mentored their child is not a joke.
    Proud of you Amita ! You did such a good piece
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Always a pleasure, and very satisfying, to write about special people doing commendable work – including you and Neena Jolly at Adharshila.

  9. So happy to know more about Shaurya. His work is awesome. Shaurya had made Anil and Nina proud. Patience and love of parents can be seen in what Shaurya is. Lots of love to you all

  10. A truly inspirational and lovely account of a remarkable young man and his wonderful family. Look forward to the day when I can visit Shaurya and his Banana Studio and learn more about this special Being.

  11. Highly inspirational and touching. Beautifully written by Amita, feels like you know Shaurya now. Would love to visit his studio some day. May God bless him.

  12. Shouryas inspiring story and the great support system supplied by his parents has been compellingly told by Amita Sarwal. It was fortunate for those who read and enjoy her work that she moved from bieng an erratic
    homeopathic doctor to a a focussed writer of impeccable lineage.She brings Shourya to life for those of us who have not seen him .

  13. So Inspiring and emotional story of Shaurya , you also written it very well Amita ji Congrats to proud parents Anil and Nina and lots of love to Shorya.

  14. Very inspiring and very well written. I am touched, moved and inspired by Shaurya and his parent’s love and patience. Thanks for sharing Shaurya’s story and beautiful pictures

  15. Such an inspiring story. Love. acceptance, belief and perseverance can make impossible possible.
    Wishing Shaurya a happy and creative life.

  16. Very inspirational story of perseverance, patience and love. Would love to soon meet Shaurya and his parents.

    Have known some exceptional parents of kids with Down Syndrome before and must say that this story will inspire them and give them some ideas as well.

    Very well written by Amita Sarwal Aunty.

  17. Hats off to Shaurya for all that he has achieved, but more than him I think I would admire Nina and Anil for having so much faith in their son and giving him the opportunities to do all this. It needs lot of courage to face a situation like this and deal with it so well.
    Must add that Amita has done a good job in writing the article. Amita, you have painted a very clear picture, job well done!!

  18. Such a pleasure to read Amita ji’s compelling article on Shaurya, Nina and Anil’s journey. A high five to Shaurya for all he has accomplished. God bless !

  19. Truly inspirational story of this brave and talented young man, Shaurya. Have to admire his parents who have taught him to be independent.
    Very well written Amita Di

  20. Very inspiring. As an educator for almost 45 years I have had the privilege to work with children with challenges like Shaurya’s. The lessons I have learnt from them and their parents have carried me through some difficult times .. I am grateful. congratulations on your achievements Shaurya. Thanks for sharing this Amita.and thank you for the credit you gave to the parents for their belief in the ability in their son. 🙏🏽

    1. Shikha, it was THEIR story – I was just the ‘medium’. Can appreciate what you must have imbibed through your interaction with them through your career. Perhaps that too made you the kind of Educator you were for almost 45 years.

  21. Very inspiring! Devoted parents and an awesomely gifted child make a tremendous equation for love overcoming all!

    Fab job, Amita!

  22. What an inspiring boy Shaurya is and so true to his name. Hats off to the incredible support provided by Nina and Anil and their perseverance!
    God bless you Shaurya and may you keep shining 👏👏👏

  23. Brilliant write up about a brave boy and their super brave and loving parents. Much to learn from you both.As for Shaurya what a befitting name.He overcomes hurdles so easily and shines so bright that it appears like cake walk.Wonderful and exemplary boy and now a famous man in his own right.I wish I could meet Shaurya and his parents someday.Well written Amita.

  24. A very touching story of Shaurya and his very brave parents, Nina and Anil. I must also add that Amita Sarwal has done full justice to this very sensitive issue. Well done, Amita.

  25. Amita
    This is a great tribute thank you for sharing
    We wish Shaurya the very best with his beautiful pottery and for the future
    Congratulations to his brave blessed parents for their endeavour patience and love

  26. What an amazing and well written story! Feel like I know Shaurya and would like to know him more and even more in awe of such amazing parents.

  27. Thank you Amita for introducing us formally to Shaurya. Your article is very heart warming. Nina and Anil have a lot to be proud of. My best wishes to Shaurya and his parents.

  28. What a,beautifully written tribute to the young artist Shaurya.Thanks for sharing this inspiring story about Shaurya’s achievements,his talents and his zeal for life,inspite of all hurdles that he faced..Kudos to Shaurya’s parents for being so diligent,loving and patient in trying to bring out the best ability of their child inspite of all odds that they faced. Its an inspiring reality for us to remember and learn from.

  29. What an inspirational story! Hats off to Shaurya and his parents. Salute for their courage, love, acceptance, perseverance and belief.

    Thank you for narrating this inspiring story so beautifully, Amita ji!

  30. Heartwarming and inspiring write up Amita – have always admired how Nina and Anil have brought up Shaurya !
    I am fortunate to have one of his pottery pieces , which I bought at a Mela when I had moved to Central Park. Am sending a picture – it has been admired by many visitors to our house – with people asking who the potter was !

  31. An amazing story and with a role model attitude to life. Anyone who has met Shaurya will not cease to be amazed by the warmth and a pure child like innocence that he radiates.

  32. Beautiful write up by Amita ji and an inspirational journey o
    Love, perseverance and goals . Hats off to the parents anil and Nina who have given their all in bringing up and shaping Shaurya. God bless Shaurya .

  33. What an incredible journey of love, caring and fortitude.Hats off to Shaurya,Nina and Anil.
    Thanks Amita for capturing this so well.

  34. Love is the single most powerful energy that can shape the world – how beautifully Shaurya’s journey has been expressed in these words! Powerful story, powerful writing and a powerful message conveyed with such positivity!
    I bow down to Shaurya’s parents, Nina and Anil! You are miracle parents with a miracle son!
    Amitaji, your writing is captivating, you couldn’t have expressed his journey better.
    Good wishes to all!

  35. Such a vivid account of Shauriya,s journey thus far n the grit n grace with which both his parents n family accepted n handled him! God forbidding it is such an inspiration for ppl similarly placed!
    May God give the family strength to keep taking care of Shaurya for all times to come!!

  36. Anita, you have captured Shauryas life with great sensitivity and aplomb. Kudos to his parents for the love, care and motivation they have showered upon him.
    You Amita have done so many varied things in your life and written articles on different subjects which I’ve so enjoyed reading. Perhaps you should compile it all into a book!

    1. Nelly, I feel blessed that so many marvellous people have given me a chance to write about them. Shaurya being the latest.

  37. It is indeed a pleasure to watch Shaurya cycling. He is very friendly and our interactions with him give us immense joy. His face lights up with pure happiness when he sees my husband and that smile followed by an innocent laugh is very uplifting, specially if you have not been having a good day. Thank you for sharing his story.

  38. Wonderful Article Amitha ji. Thank you so much for sharing such inspiring story. God bless Shourya happiness always. I Bow down to his wonderful parents for their patience & dedication.

  39. What a wonderfully inspiring story of unconditional love, courage, patience, perseverance- and the indomitable human spirit! Amita Sarwal has threshed out the best of all these, simply and evocatively touching the hearts of even those who have never experienced such adversity and struggle, and hopefully inspiring others who face such tremendous personal challenges to never give up.

  40. Thank you Anita for sharing this write up about a such a special young man Shaurya you are such a source of inspiration to many I applaud the efforts his parents have made to make Shaurya a wonderful person

  41. Thank you Amita ji for sharing such a beautiful story of Shaurya with us !
    He is god send and his parents are inspirational !

  42. What a beautiful story about an equally beautiful vsoul .Very touched to hear Shauryas story.So mucmuch creativity n talent makes me feel truly humbled.The parents are indeed role models for all of us .My blessings and good wishes .

  43. Very nice! Reading about Shaurya, someone who succeeded (rather than just survive) indeed makes him a “miracle”. Well done & keep going!

  44. Amita ji, it is thrilling to learn about Shaurya, who, despite his serious medical conditions, eventually evolved as a Potter, Actor and a Brave Soul.

    Shaurya’s strong fighting spirit, adaptability coupled with tremendous support, determination and faith of his parents is deeply admirable.

    As Mother Nature always gives you back what you sow, Shaurya helped his parents attain a realisation that ‘LOVE’ is the single most powerful energy that can shape the world.

    God bless the family!

  45. Amazing boy and wonderful parents.
    Thank you Amita for sharing.
    Shaurya s determination and his parents love and support have helped him.
    I admire all three.

    Good Bless them always.

  46. Very inspiring story and very well written. We need more such stories of hope. Shaurya is indeed a lucky boy to have such parents who have discovered his potential and given him the wings to fly and the parents are truly blessed too, for such creative talent is truly a rare gift from God.

  47. Looking at Shaurya, there is no doubt about the total commitment and nurturing he has and is receiving from his dedicated parents. This is a living example of the ultimate love of parents. God bless them both and gratitude to them for sharing and setting a stellar path of learning to all. Amita, you have done well to highlight this. Kudos to you.

  48. You are truly an inspiration Shaurya. You have always made us proud. One can learn a lot from you. Simplicity, love , fun and full of colours and life.

  49. As a Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrician I have found the following story inspirational . Well done Amita, a journalist par excellence!!!
    “ I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…

    When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

    But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

    So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you never would have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice Holland has windmills…and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy…and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

    And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

    But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland.

  50. Shaurya is a blessing for everyone around him. Strong yet untouched with anything negative. More power to the parents and him. God bless.

  51. Amazing journey of Shauraya. God bless him and his parents,finding strength in your challenges is the biggest step towards evolution. Amita so well written right from your heart.

  52. In these difficult times it is so inspiring to read the story about a young man with such grave issues and how he has handled them with loads of creativity and confidence. When I whine over small issues in the future I will think of Shaurya and be positive like him Kudos to his parents for showing such patience and forbearance. Amita well written story Keep up the good work We need many more stories like this one .

  53. Such a beautiful and positive story about your son and his talents and attitude ! Not to mention the great parents you’ve been !
    Congratulations to Shaurya for the remarkable talent he has.
    Look forward to having one of his pieces someday .
    Maybe an online store is the next step !
    God bless !

  54. So very sensitively written. Shauryas story is not just hearwarmingly human, but very inspirational. There is so much of life lessons in this and it should serve as guide and beacon to all parents of differently abled children
    Congratulation Amita.

    1. Radha, Am sure Shaurya’s story – and Nina nad Anil’s commitment will continue to prove inspirational to a lot of parents.

  55. Thank you Amita. Such a an uplifting, inspirational write up. Kudos to the entire family for their amazing love and constant care.

  56. Amita M’am so beautifully and sensitively written. Healthy bodies like us dont realise grave issues unless told. I’ve known an officer’s son who had the same syndrome. But no more at an young age.

  57. Very well penned article Amita! Truly inspiring story of Shaurya and his dedicated parents! Hats off to them for their patience and perseverance with their special child in bringing out his creative talent to the fore and for all that he has accomplished!!Thanks for the beautiful share!

  58. Am feeling inspired by Shaurya’s amazing journey . With his parents dedication and unconditional support his ability to pursue his inherent creativity is admirable. Look forward to seeing his work.
    Amita, thanks for sharing it with so much sensitivity and love . Cheers

  59. Amazing journey of Shaurya. I have personally seen him grow in confidence in front of my eyes. May God bless him and his family and I pray that he continue to make us proud.

  60. I have known Shaurya from his birth and am very proud to be a part of the family. Shaurya is an extremely talented youn man having a plethora of sterling qualities. His parents deserve all the credit for the incredible pain and sacrifices they have made in bringing up Shaurya and imbibing him with the numerous qualities that have made Shaurya what he is today. Congratulations to Amita Karwal for an excellent article on Shaurya.

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