SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Thursday, March 28, 2013

World Story Telling day 30th March- Chicken Licken with a twist

"Sometimes the act of doing something itself gives a sense of satisfaction"
So it was on World Storytelling Day-March 20th

Those opening words are my excuse for not sharing and blogging about our day of stories with tiny tots of Makkala Mandira; a government run play school on campus and a laboratory for the students of VHD Central Institute of Homescience in Gandhi Nagar, Bangalore.

These dates have been created primarily for us to take efforts to actively engage with our community, and so when the urge hit me, I just tossed the question to my friend and partner Aparna;
"Where do we tell a story for World Storytelling Day?", and she promptly came up with Makkala Mandira!

As part of our endeavor to use stories as tools for learning and socio-emotional development, I bring the stories and my friend Aparna (Kid and Parent Foundation) helps me convert them into wonderful interactive platforms for us to engage with children, adults and every soul connected and concerned with Human Development!

So the story I chose was the classic Chicken-Licken, but with a twist!

The traditional story also known as Henny-Penny or Chicken Little,is about a little chick that fears, "the sky is falling" on its head. This folk tale has been  used as an inspiration for the famous animated cartoon film, Chicken Little.

The earliest reference to this story line dates as far back as 25 centuries ago to the Jataka Tales. A parable, the Jataka story talks about how Buddha in order to illustrate how we avoid facing the truth and delude ourselves, which in turn becomes our fears, tells us the story of a Rabbit that runs around telling everyone (all the animals) the earth is cracking, and finally it is the Lion who stops the rabbit and investigates the cause. The Lion discovers a mango on the ground (one version says it is the Bengal Quince: the Bilva/ Bilvapatre or Vilvum fruit, considered to be sacred by the Hindus, we also know it as the hard Wood Apple fruit, funny tasting with an unbelievably hard outer shell), and shows the animals how the foolish chicken's fear was triggered by a falling fruit.

 My version as I told you went with a twist. Sometimes the adaptation is made according to availability of props (I am not very sure if this is technically correct, but then I try not to take away the cultural or environmental context of the story), or with the audience.

This western version is classified under the Aarne-Thompson classification as a Formula Tale-Chains involving Other events; a chain story). Here we had Chicken running away from a sound it hears to tell the King, all the way up the hill and down the hill, meeting a family of birds; a Hen, a Cock and a Turkey(all with cute names like Henny-Penny, Cocky- Lockey, Turkey-Lurkey), and finally the trickster fox, Foxy-Loxy.

In the western version the fox dupes the birds and takes them to a place where it eats them up. While this can be used in a context where we talk about personal safety and not being tricked into believing strangers. I combined it with the Asian version to introduce a wise Owl, that warns the birds to run away and who eventually helps them investigate the cause of the loud sound, which turns out to be a fallen coconut ( while the western version tells us it an acorn, which we don't see around here)

So leaving the tiny tots with powerful visualisation of look, understand and then react...

We enjoyed visualising the story and the children and their caretakers too were very impressed.

Hope you too liked our contribution towards making stories, imagination, creativity and wonder a part of  every child and person in this World.

(A wonderful classification for Folklorists available on this link: Aarne-Thompson-wikipedia
check it out)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ganesha's Mango..errr...or should I say Street smart?!

Ganesha is reading a book in his own personal library when his younger brother Karthik enters:
"Hey dude, I am planning to ask Siddhi-Buddhi from Temple Street out on a date. What do you think?"
"No way man, I have already asked them to keep themselves free this weekend, I am planning to take them to see a dance programme at Mount Kailash."
"That's not fair. How come you always get what I want? Hey...thats the last Mango of the season, you have finished that too?". I have had enough; I challenge you to a competition, a race around the world, and whoever wins will take Siddhi-Buddhi to the programme. Are you game?"

"Hmm...a  race is just not my thing...Look at my steed, a puny mouse, while yours is a sleek peacock. I know you will win hands down."
"Tough Luck Bro. That's not my problem; come on, I am off. The person who travels around the world and reaches back here is the winner."

While Kartik, jumps on to his peacock and struts off around the world, our dear Ganesha has not moved an inch.

"Well, I traveled the world and I am back. I win" says Karthik, the cool dude 

"Well I have traveled the world too, test me if you want"

"I am sure you did not move an inch from here, let me ask you then....did you see the Himalayas? Tell me how it looks."

 Then Ganesha describes the incredible beauty of the MahaParvath. The majestic grandeur, the minute details, leaving Karthik spell bound.

" Hmmm, that's some description! I even saw the the Corals of the Great Barrier Reef, tell me, did you see that?"
"Oh Yes I did", and Ganesha painted the whole undersea picture in words.

" Oh Man, this is too much, How did you do this sitting here?!"
" Simple, I read all the stories in these books!"

Karthik the adventurer, impressed with Ganesha's methodology, sat down and immersed himself in the fantastic collection of books and all but forgot about the girls and the competition he had started off. Maybe it will come up another day!!

All credits for this adaptation to 
By far the cheekiest and best adaptation of a story from mythology. I have taken the liberty to further include my own dialogues, interpretations and imagination. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I did.

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