The Great Wash Yatra – A carnival that traveled 2000 kilometers across rural India and was attended by over 160,000 people, spanning 5 states, in just 18 days. With a mandate of behaviour change and advocacy around W.A.S.H. goals, the campaign targeted children between the ages of 9 and 16 years.

Our role was to create, detail and manage the $2.2 million campaign across the country, hitting all the targets set by the foundations and agencies involved, in terms of timelines, outreach, visitor experience, content and messaging.

As Lead design team for the carnival, our role was to create “The Carnival Experience”, as well as develop messaging and behaviour change exercises focusing on sanitation and hygiene awareness. Apart from the content and experience, we were responsible for the venue design, event planning, and logistics for a crew of 500 people traveling across the country. The event gained extensive coverage in global media and was featured in New York Times, The Guardian, The Economic Times and several other leading publications; reaching out to over 200 million people.

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Development of simple games that reflected the messaging and promoted behaviour change was the main draw of the carnival. Certain existing games were also modified to suit the content (especially traditional Indian games), ensuring that the gameplay remained simple while the focus stayed on the messaging. Visual language developed by the graphic design team was used to convey the idea of hygiene, sanitation and its importance. All the games were free to play, with children winning bars of soap once they completed the task and could state the key message for the particular game.

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One of the most popular games that we developed for the Yatra was a modification of ‘Musical Chairs’. The player that was left without a squat toilet when the music stopped was eliminated from the game. WASH United (one of the stakeholders in the project) is currently working with the government to distribute a simple and cost effective version of the props required for the game, to schools across the country.

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As one of the key focus areas of the campaign – workshops and discussions were held with women and girls at every Yatra stop. With a focus on changing the attitude towards menstruation and busting superstition and myths surrounding it, the workshops were conducted by the Yatra partners – UNICEF and Goonj.

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Content development also included performances by theatre groups, street magicians, fire-eaters, stilt walkers and folk musicians whose performances reflected the messaging while ensuring the active participation of the attendees. Folk melodies were adapted for delivering the content and were performed through-out the venue. In a select few stops, the visitors were greeted by an elephant handing out free soap bars.

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One of the stops along the route, spread over 7500 square meters, the carnival attendance varied between 12,000 to 20,000 people a day. The state government supported the campaign by providing space to hold the event, along with security personnel. HUL supplied the carnival with the ‘prizes’ in the form of handwashing soap bars, with over 160,000 people participating it was a sizable contribution.

Coverage in The New York Times
Coverage in Forbes
Coverage in The Economic Times


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