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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Seeing Indian Mythology through a child's eyes

One of my primary partners in my exploration of 'What is India?' is Isha. Because, at one level, I am really starting from scratch. And it's also very small attempt to expose kids of her generation who are deprived of growing up with the 'real India' and her riches. We have many more miles to go!

One of the things we do together is to see / read stories of the different Gods and Goddesses on youtube and Amar Chitra Katha. As we do this, she makes her innocent observations, asks her simple and basic questions. Like Tenali Rama asked Kali how she managed if she caught a cold, constantly wiping off her thousand noses! (Lots of giggles! :)

One of our favourite stories is that of Devi slaying Mahisasura. We have seen and read different versions. In one, Devi slays Mahisa. In another, she subdues and transforms him into Yama's vehicle. What all else could Devi do with the terrible Mahisa? 'If Devi is the most powerful, why would it take her 10 days to control Mahisa? How is it that she is so calm and peaceful while slaying the asura?' And we both indulge in wonderment together! And more than anything, we both learn to keep collecting and staying with all our questions, an important learning I realise as a grown up.

And this journey continues beyond the stories we see and read. Every evening for around one mandala (40 days) we have been lighting the evening lamp, and playing and singing along 'Mahishasuramardini Stotram' and the 'Hanuman Chalisa'. I combine my practice of reading the Devanagari script and learning Sanskrit vocabulary and grammar alongside. By now, she has learnt to recite along the entire stotram. One evening she said 'Today you sing, and I will dance.' and went ahead with a full-on performance of the story with abhinaya! And now, this has become our new routine for the past four days. Of course, I am not supposed to watch her dance. It is her personal thing. :) 

And then we are waiting to delve into the stories Shumbha and Nishumbha and all the other Asuras that we sing about.

1 comment:

Lakshmi Sriraman said...

Wow! How amazing Sangeetha. Creating personal narratives of these stories is so important. And you are doing it with your daughter very beautifully.