India is a land of stories. Everything of significance has a story behind it – either mythological, folk, imaginary. Stories are important because they instil a sense of belonging, national pride and empathy in us. They help us understand each other better. In fact, for us, stories are a national art form. We know of our valorous kings and queens through stories, of our freedom fighters through stories and in fact, we appreciate our many different cultures with reverence because of stories.
Several organisations and storytellers today are doing a great job of bringing these stories to us in various art forms and making us proud of the many treasures our country holds. Desh Apnayen celebrates some of them.
- The Story of the Brahmaputra
The Brahmaputra river, in its 3000km glory, twists and turns through Tibet, India and Bangladesh, proving life and livelihood wherever it flows. Notably, it is the only ‘male river’ in India, as all the other rivers have female names. Legend has it that the Brahmaputra is a male river because he is the son of Lord Brahma. Brahma, in our culture, signifies creation. So does this river.
Magical Whispers, a Mumbai-based group of puppeteers and storytellers is bringing these and other lesser-known facts about the river to the public through dance, drama, music and puppets in Opera of Puppets: The Mysterious River Brahmaputra. “We decided to stage a show on the Brahmaputra River as not much is known about it. We have traced its journey from its rise in Tibet, how it flourishes in Assam and descends into the Ganges in Bangladesh. In the process, it affects the cultures of all these places,” says Madhuri Kale, a certified puppeteer and founding member of the group.
A commendable thing is that rather than opting for the conventional string-and-rod form of puppetry, Kale and her team of five chose to make their own puppets using recycled bottles, cardboard boxes and saris. It also spreads the message of going green and shows children that with imagination, everything is possible.
To know more about this production, read here.
- Indian dance as a base for exploring World Folklore
Daksha Mashruwala, the acclaimed Odissi dancer — a disciple of the late Padma Vibhushan awardee Kelucharan Mohapatra —chose to use Indian dance forms to showcase global mythologies.
Her one-hour production, ‘Crossing Oceans’, is performed by students from Kaishiki (her dance school) and will celebrate folklores from Greece, Japan and Australia through Odissi, contemporary dance and Chhau respectively.
“We travel so much around the world, and the cultures are coming closer, but we rarely know the mythologies of these regions,” says the 63-year-old.
This is, in fact, a great initiative to foster not only national pride but also love and empathy for other cultures and values. In our culture, we are always asked to embrace and accept the other. Productions like these lend themselves to this experience. They make it possible for us to see and use art as a medium to understand one another better, so break boundaries and express fully. In essence, it is the core of every citizenship value we hold dear – to break boundaries, collaborate, understand and take action.
See a trailer of this wonderful performance below. To read more, click here.
We at Desh Apnayen invite you to share stories of many such initiatives in the comments section, so we can all feel proud of our collective history together.