Epic fun

Updated: 07 July, 2020 10:28 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

A new card-based memory game centred on Ramayana by author Devdutt Pattanaik aims to connect kids with Indian mythology. The mother of a five-year-old tells us how she ended up learning more from it

It's no myth that the story of the Ramayana has drawn us since eternity. Who doesn't remember tuning into Doordarshan to watch Ramanand Sagar's show that debuted in 1987 — a visual that was mirrored a couple of months ago when it was aired again. However, at a time when video games, OTT platforms and social media have taken over our lives, our Indian myths often take a back seat. This means that kids today end up missing out on a lot, as our epics have influenced much of our values and culture.

Kamal Sehmbi and her son Ivaan play the game
Kamal Sehmbi and her son Ivaan play the game

Author and Sunday Mid-day columnist Devdutt Pattanaik tells us that he's always felt that games can help parents start the conversation on Indian mythology, and that his work could be turned into the same. So, Pattanaik, who writes on the relevance of mythology in modern times, tied up with Gurugram-based entrepreneur Nidhi Jain Seth to create Epically Ramayana, a card-based memory game that released in June. The cards, which are divided into two sets (32 each) — art and story, are based on Pattanaik's illustrations. One has to match the description of the characters in the story cards, with their illustrations in the art cards. "I needed a partner who could do the 'real work' as I am focussed on writing and illustrating, which is where Seth, who's the brains behind this, stepped in," he shares.

Devdutt Pattanaik
Devdutt Pattanaik

"Pattanaik always says that you bring your kids closer to your culture not by listing dos and dont's, but by making it a part of your life. And, what better than games to do that?" says Seth, who runs a product designing firm, adding, "The idea is to invoke the curiosity of the player. Once that happens, there's a natural conversation that follows about the characters and the story." Whether it's values or science, she feels that there's a lot to learn from our epics. "We all know that the Ramayana teaches us to respect parents. But, there are lessons in science, too, like Setubandh, which teaches buoyancy," she illustrates, adding that more such board games are, therefore, in the pipeline.

Nidhi Jain Seth
Nidhi Jain Seth

Gurugram-based marketing professional Kamal Sehmbi tells us that when she ordered the cards for her five-year-old son Ivaan, she was a little sceptical as she feels activity options for kids are better outside India. But, when the cards arrived, she was impressed with the design. "I have never seen Indian mythology look so cool and slick. We laid the cards out, read the instructions and we were matching them in no time." Sehmbi adds that it was a great way to bond with her son. "Apart from the fact that it's a non-screen activity, it was very interesting for me, too, unlike other games that mostly kids end up enjoying more," she jokes. The parent tells us that unlike the TV series, since this was an activity, it piqued Ivaan's interest in the individual stories of the characters. "For instance, when he found out that Lakshman's wife, Urmila, slept for 14 years, he kept asking me why. I had to brush up my memory and also got an insight into how Urmila sleeping was an act of sacrifice," Sehmbi explains.

The game focuses as much on the ancillary characters whom we tend to forget, she says, adding that it's compact and easy to carry around. But the best part, she concludes, is, "This is a natural way to make these stories and values reach kids who need it the most rather than forcing it down their throats, especially at a time like this."

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First Published: 07 July, 2020 09:23 IST

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