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Updated: April 2, 2014 12:27 IST

A schoolteacher documenting India’s rich folklores and myths

M. Vandhana
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Schoolteacher-turned-author S. Ramesh.
Photo: R. Ashok
The Hindu
Schoolteacher-turned-author S. Ramesh. Photo: R. Ashok

Rajapalayam schoolteacher S. Ramesh's book "Muththa", a collection of six short stories, has reference to folk deities and myths gathered from Srivilliputtur, that are in danger of fading out.

India is rich in folklores, but not many of them have been documented. For 45-year-old S. Ramesh, a schoolteacher in Rajapalayam, rural myths and folklores are integral parts of the tradition which need to be documented.

His book “Muththa”, a collection of six short stories, published with the assistance of Tamil Development Department of the State, has reference to folk deities and myths gathered from Srivilliputtur, that are in danger of fading out.

“I have merely added a dose of literary techniques such as fiction, humour, sarcasm and satire to the rural myths and have documented them. My works are an attempt at capturing the richness of folk traditions at Srivilliputtur,” he says. One of his stories titled “Panaimarathu Muniyandi Samiyum Vanniyampatti Pachaiappanum” is based on a myth narrated by the locals, who worship a barren palm tree as Muniyandi, a saviour deity.

“I went to Acham Thavirthan, a place, which has a temple for Lord Srinivasaperumal. For years, the temple remains forsaken by all and the priest is the last and the latest to abandon the temple. Under the title “Acham Kondan”, I have written about this temple after a research,” Mr. Ramesh explains.

A postgraduate in English literature, Mr. Ramesh has translated several of English classics. One of his published translated works is the prologue and the Nun’s Priest Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales”. More than 10 of his completed books, which include historical fiction, collection of essays, poems and translation of classics, are yet to be published.

One of his yet-to-be-published works, “Srivilliputhur: Ruminations of Rambler”, is a collection of essays, in which he has written about several unknown aspects of Srivilliputtur. “I have compared the landscape of Srivilliputtur to R.K. Narayan’s fictional Malgudi.

In “Thaligai” I have documented the biography of Rani Mangammal, with several unknown details,” he says.

One such detail is the mention of two houses the queen gifted to a woman, whose meal, she enjoyed at Srivilliputtur. “The woman’s inheritor’s are still in possession of the houses and I spoke to them,” Mr. Ramesh adds.

His main concern is that there are not many serious readers among the younger generation anymore. “There can be no substitute for reading. When we read, our mind develops mental images, which improve our cognitive faculty fourfold. More youngsters should translate classics into Tamil and document the folklores,” he signs off.

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