Is Kusha Rama’s son? Why did Brahma lose one of his heads? Why is there no temple for Brahma except in Pushkar? Why is Shiva worshipped in the form of Linga? Who is King Porus? Generations of Indian children grew up listening to stories that answered these questions from their grandparents.
However, with the joint family system giving way to nuclear families, not many in the present generation may have had the joy of listening to stories by their grandmas. Seeking to fill this void now is Nanamma.com , a free website being launched this Saturday. It will feature narrations drawn from the Indian cultural and spiritual tradition and history in English through 1,008 stories in PDF form and 365 video tales.
“Though nanamma means grandmother, the website is not just for children. When I discussed the idea with my friends, they wanted to make it for all age groups,” says Jaya Venugopal, the brain behind the project. The stories in PDF forms are confined to a single page, while each video story runs for three to six minutes. The website, however, has an interesting story behind it. “The idea came from my nine-year-old grandson Sachin living in the US,” says Ms. Venugopal, who frequently flies to the US and Hong Kong to meet her grandchildren.
“My time will always be spent narrating stories and one day Sachin wanted me to be his granddaughter in the next birth. He also wanted to me compile all the stories so that he can narrate the stories to me in the next birth,” says Ms. Jaya Venugopal laughingly, the first Principal of Chinmaya Residential School in Coimbatore. Stories on the site have been classified into three categories—Spiritual, Historical and Cultural.
“All of them are value-based stories and I have not fictionalised them. For instance, I have clearly said that Kusha was not Rama’s son and it was a character created by Valmiki,” she explains.
Besides stories on 40 major periods with 108 major dynasties that ruled this nation, narratives from Independent India come under cultural stories. “It includes festivals, pilgrim centres, rivers, gurus, pujas and vratas and values. The ‘disciplines’ session has stories about our samskaras, self-discipline and societal discipline. It also covers major Hindu festivals, pilgrimage centres, holy rivers, saints and gurus,” she says, adding that all stories are accompanied by colourful portraits.
As far as video stories are concerned, Ms. Jaya Venugopal herself has narrated them in a simple language. The section covers 189 spiritual stories, 102 historical and 75 cultural stories. “The site gives ample scope to learn, understand our nation in general and our culture in particular. Listen and see one story a day for full one year and read one story for one day for full three years,” she says.