BANGALORE: The moment one hears about the ‘Panchatantra tales’ or even moral stories, he or she is reminded of one’s childhood days, listening to the stories told by our grandparents. We as children usually went to sleep with at least one story a day. But the craving for these colourful stories was insatiable.
It is said that Jijabai, Chhatrapati Shivaji’s mother, narrated many stories from the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha in his early life that had a everlasting impact on him. But, in the contemporary world, due to lack of time and working parents, the interaction with their children is drastically deteriorating day by day. The day-to-day pressure constantly mounting especially on school going children is also affecting the crucial, growing-up stage of their lives.
“The traditional art of story telling is now replaced by television, video games and computer games,” says Ravindra Vijay, a storyteller. He adds, “Personal touch is slowly dying. Story-telling is said to be a precursor to drama. In earlier days, people sat around the bonfire and shared their experiences in the form of story-telling. They added music and movement to it.” Speaking about the impact of story-telling on children, Geeta Ramanujam, director of Kathalaya Trust says, “The essence of story-telling is to make children comprehend the concept that we are trying to tell. Once they are convinced, they try to imbibe the positive features in their lives.” To revive the traditional form of story-telling, there are many institutions like Kathalaya and other organisations which conduct workshops to narrate stories to children. There are two types of stories narrated to children in these workshops, firstly, pure entertainment stories and secondly, story-with-a-purpose. In the second type of story telling, the issues are addressed, for example the environmental concerns and others. Fox in our stories are considered to be cunning, but in contradiction, in stories narrated in Orissa, they are friends of human beings. The comparisons helps children interpret the stories in different angles, says Geeta. She adds, “There are also story-tellers from other countries who narrate parallel stories, that is, stories from their lands which helps children to gain knowledge of the culture and tradition of other countries.”
When asked about the audience response to these workshops and festivals conducted for children, she said, “Initially, the children were ‘pushed’ to listen to the stories. But once they started listening, they were engrossed in them.”
Story telling is also a connecting bond between children and teacher. Coaching classes are also conducted for adults in order to blend the concepts well with the stories narrated.