Monday, December 14, 2009

101 Folktales From India by Eunice de Souza, reviewed by Mehar Jehangir Haleem

101 Folktales From India by Eunice de Souza

Reviewed by
Name: Mehar Jehangir Haleem (9 years)
School: Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School, Humayun Road, New Delhi.

101 folktales from India is a wonderful collection of stories derived not only from different geographical locales such as the foothills of the Himalayas and sea-shores of Goa but also from culturally rich resources such as the tribes of central and north-east India, the Panchatantra epics, mythology, emperors and their royal courts. The result is a rich and varied story telling that offers comparative insights into a number of regions in India.

The name of the book ‘101 Folktales from India’ is thought provoking and begs the question why the number 101. The significance of the number ‘one’ added to hundred is a mark of Indian tradition highlighted in the title of the book itself, setting the mood for folklore.

In this book, some tales are familiar, some less so, taken from different regions grouped into six major themes: ‘How the World came to be’, ‘Good and bad kings’, ‘Holy and Unholy men’, ‘Men and Women’, ‘Birds and Beasts’ and ‘Clever and Foolish Men’.

Keeping up to its promise the tales spin out incredible situations and events in which winds speak, mountains sulk, the sun gets angry and so on. Each form of nature manifests an emotion that is easily recognizable as a metaphor for human condition. The tale evolves through the medium and arrives at a moral.

Many of these stories feature famous kings, of which some are legends, passed on by oral tradition. Some describe ghosts and devils while some have magical lands within their pages.

The book is highly recommended not only for young people but for mothers and grandmothers, for a rich, vibrant and uninterrupted supply of familiar yet wonderful stories night after night.

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