World Storytelling Day is celebrated around the globe on March 20. A few events this weekend will help you understand the nuances of storytelling
The Katha Project, an experimental project in comparative mythology and ancient history, is organising a talk on mythology and the importance of storytelling by Utkarsh Patel, faculty of Comparative Mythology at Mumbai University. He is a founder member of Talking Myths Project, an online archive of traditional tales from the Indian subcontinent.
Patel will delve on different types of storytelling such as Folk tales, myths and legends with an emphasis on Greek myths. His talk will feature Folk tales from the collections of AK Ramanujan, Greek myths of Diana and Actaeon, and myths from Celtic and lesser-known Native Indian cultures, to offer insight into global storytelling traditions. Another aspect that he will delve on is the use of mythology by a historical character like Alexander the Great, who used myths to his advantage.
Speaking about the importance of storytelling, Patel says, “It is a means of setting cultural and behavioural norms, apart from providing entertainment. Greeks and other ancient cultures used myths to explain the environment in which humankind lived, natural phenomena witnessed and the passing of time through the days, months, and seasons. Through stories, we can explain the complexities and irrationality of myths. Once understood, it can serve as guiding lessons for humanity.”
He further explains, “The earliest form of storytelling was cave paintings which was followed by oral storytelling. With the development of language came verbal renditions as a part of oral traditions, like Kathas and Pravachans. Storytelling could also be in the form of dance dramas.”
With time, stories and storytellers gained significance and a culture evolved. “Some stories became part of ‘social memory’, and were an inherent part of the collective unconscious, a reservoir of experiences of a community. Perhaps that’s why in India, we don’t read the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, yet everybody seems to know about it!”
On: March 22, 4.45 pm
What is World Storytelling Day?
World Storytelling Day was first conceptualised and held on March 20, 1991 in Sweden. The day has since been celebrated around the world. It celebrates the art of oral storytelling with people around the world sharing stories in various languages.
India and Greece
“Greek myths, like Indian myths, are myths about gods and their matters and occasional relationships with humans. The gods have emotions, likes and dislikes and are prone to idiosyncrasies, which are not alien to humans. However, one aspect that differs in Greek myths is that they are less judgmental, with reference to value judgments. Greek myths do not focus much on values; the actions of gods are not weighed on the balance of right and wrong.”
– Utkarsh Patel
Wish for a story
Celebrate World Storytelling Day with a festival hosted by Katha Kosa and Kitab Khana where you can turn storyteller too. A team from Katha Kosa will narrate stories around the theme of wishes, and also invite children and adults to narrate tales.
On: March 22, 4 pm to 6 pm
At: Kitab Khana, MG Road, Fort.
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