From India's insides

Updated: Feb 18, 2020, 09:29 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A storytelling event over the weekend will focus on narrating tales in regional Indian languages

Lopamudra Mohanty narrating a story in Odia
Lopamudra Mohanty narrating a story in Odia

There is an iconic Bengali book called Thakumar Jhuli in which a grandmother (thakuma) picks out stories from a bag (jhuli) and narrates them to the reader. These tales are often so fantastical that you are transported to a different world that's populated by speaking animals and demons, among other mythical creatures. They have been an essential component of a Bengali's childhood for generations now, with similar pieces of literature spread out across India. And Lopamudra Mohanty, founder of Big Buddy World — a platform that aims to inculcate the habit of reading in children — now wants to spread this wealth of stories through the second edition of an event called Indian Language Storytelling Mandala.

The weekend session will involve people from different parts of the country narrating stories in their mother tongue. All one has to do is send an email to the address listed below with details of the story they have chosen. Each selected storyteller gets seven minutes and only when they complete narrating it in its original language, do they tell the audience in English or Hindi what the story was actually about. "A lot is lost in translation when you tell an Indian story in English, and the idea here is to initially get at least a gist of what the narrative is about," Mohanty tells us.

But she adds that children — and sometimes even adults — are losing touch with their native languages thanks to the misconception that you need to speak in English to be modern or cool. Mohanty says, "There was once a storyteller who shared a story in Sindhi, and later came up to me and said, 'I am so ashamed because I don't know the script of my own language. What am I going to teach my children?' So what's happening these days is that the present generation is losing connect with their own culture, and that is a dangerous thing to happen."

Indeed it is, so if — like Thakuma — you, too, have a metaphorical bag of stories to pick from, carry it along to this event and invite listeners into your own fantastical, literary world.

On February 22, 4.30 pm
At Kalpataru Estate, Poonam Nagar Road, Andheri East.

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