Thursday, October 6, 2011

A folktale for Dasara

It’s the festival season in India and after a gap of three years, it feels like rediscovering Navaratri and Diwali, two of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated during this time. Though I have grown up celebrating Ayudha Pooja, attending Navaratri festivities at temples, or calling on neighbors who exhibit their Dasara dolls collection, it is a whole new experience for my five year old. This festive splendor can compare with the Holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US. This is the time to go on a guilt-free shopping spree or go on an eating binge or go on a temple tour or on  a vacation and I  confess that except the temple visit, I have done it all this festival season….and may be gone a little overboard as if to make up for the last three years!:-) 

Anyway, with schools closed for Dasara vacations, I was looking for ways to engage Abhay and found a few places holding folk arts and crafts designed to sensitize kids to their roots. So today I read a book based on a Marati folktale “Ekki Dokki” retold by Sandhya Rao and Ranjan De. This is a tale of two sisters – Ekkisvali and Dokkeswali fondly known as Ekki and Dokki respectively. Ekki had one strand of hair on her head and Dokki had two. Dokki was very proud of her two strands of hair and always tried to show off to her sister. Fed up with her sister’s jeers, Ekki runs into the forest. As she runs deeper and deeper into the forest, she hears a voice calling for water. After a quite a search, she spots a withered bush in need of water. As she collects water from a nearby stream and sprinkles it on the bush, the mendhi bush thanks her for the help. As she moves on, she hears another voice calling for food when she finds a cow tied to a dead tree. The kind girl that she is, Ekki gathers some leaves and feeds them to the emaciated creature. She also unties the knot and sets the cow free who can’t thank her enough. As soon as she bids goodbye to the cow, she soon finds a mud hut with a thatched roof. An old lady comes out of the hut and invites her in. Ekki makes herself comfortable in the house when the old lady asks her to take a bath and have lunch. Ekki surprised to find such a hospitable environment in the middle of nowhere does as she is told. After an oil bath, Ekki is delighted to see long black tresses fall over her shoulders and found that she had the most beautiful hair anyone could imagine. She runs home, stopping only to accept the cow’s milk and the Mendhi bush’s mendhi paste. When she reaches home, her parents are thrilled to have her back and that too with a makeover!  But Dokki, her jealous sister cant bear to look at her and instead rushes off to the forest in the hope of an encore. But Dokki being selfish and self centered, didn’t hear the bush or the cow and heads straight to the old lady’s hut demanding a special bath. The old lady concedes to her demand and asks her take bath. When she does, Dokki excitedly unwrapped the towel from her head to find that she has lost all her hair! The message from this folk tale though not obvious makes your little one think of the consequences of their actions and triumph of good over bad, which is why we celebrate Navaratri. Dasara greetings to everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Nice Story Divya.Definately I will tell this sory to Gauri and Keshav