Society

Folktales from Kashmir to Kerala, retold in Chennai

Unknown stories and thought-provoking legends dominated Vikram Sridhar’s Handmade Folktales session

On a Sunday evening, despite the India-Pakistan match, a small, curious group sat in a circle around a bespectacled Vikram Sridhar, at Curioplay.

He began asking the audience what they had for lunch. Hearing someone say rumali roti, he animatedly shared a tale about how the roti actually emerged as a cooking accident, and went on to be adopted as a new dish.

It was fascinating to see this little tale, serve as an icebreaker. Why should stories be only for children, asked Vikram. And why can’t adults enjoy folktales and stories?

He then took the audience along an Indian folktale journey, from Kashmir to Kerala — weaved together with the story of a little girl listening to her grandfather’s tales.

Stories also act as thought-provoking parallels in today’s world — For instance, a mother’s grief manifests as India’s tallest waterfalls, Nohkalikai Falls; Tees Maar Khan, the killer of 30, goes from a nobody to the king of the land, making people’s lack of awareness his strength.

Birbal, whose name comes from the phrase Vir Val which translates to intelligence and courage, represents a witty balance to Akbar’s misled actions in power. According to Vikram, Fatehpur Sikri was home to the Birbal gate.

“Those who understand, will understand. Those who don’t, won’t,” Sridhar said about interpreting these tales.

Sridhar says storytelling is a strong medium for coversation. Folklore also weaves ecological elements into narratives as a different way to connect with flora and fauna. “You’d find these folk tales or nattupura kathai in books, but it has its soul in the oral medium. Unless you say it, it’s dead,” explains Sridhar.

He encouraged everyone in the audience to take up their role as a storyteller and pass on these folktales and stories to others. Around The Story Tree is his initiative to connect modern day listeners to the environment, through arts and storytelling.

The next edition of ‘Handmade Folktales’ is set to take place in the last week of July.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 7:40:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/folktales-from-kashmir-to-kerala-retold-in-chennai/article28094803.ece

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