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Introducing mythology to kids not only brings them closer to our culture but can help them grow into better individuals as well!
I still have fond memories of my childhood, when I sat in my father’s lap listening to mythological stories of Ramayana, Mahabharata and folklores of Lord Jagannath.
Today, my children enjoy these stories too. Mythological stories always have that mystic charm that allures the young mind. I introduced the mythological characters of Ramayana to my kids when they were just three years old. Through these stories I explained them why do we celebrate Dussehra and Diwali every year, giving them a fair idea of what’s good and evil.
Recently, I realised the essence of introducing mythological characters at a young age. The fear of darkness always haunted my son, he never dared to enter a dark room. But with time, things started changing when I narrated him the stories of Lord Krishna and how he killed the demons with his magical powers. I kept telling him, Krishna is with you and he would help you, don’t fear. Somehow he could relate and now he is more confident. He enters a dark room, saying “Krishna is there with me”.
Apart from rendering fearlessness into kids, these stories also have a funny side to them. Couple of weeks back when I chided my daughter on her mischievous act, I promptly received a befitting reply that Krishna too was naughty and a little naughtiness is alright for kids.
I was completely taken aback and speechless for a moment.
That moment I was smiling on the inside, even though I did not dare to show it on my face. I was happy that she could relate to the stories and mythological characters.
But today, when we are immersed in the virtual world and artificial intelligence. Does Mythology hold relevance anymore or, is it just the story of ancient times?
Today’s world thinks that these stories are of the bygone era, and are only for kids to read, or to know the reason behind our festivities. But, mythology is more than that.
As per Devdutt Pattnaik (Indian illustrator and Mythological expert) “Mythology is a map of the human mind. It helps you understand the world, life, and culture. It is a subjective truth based on memory”.
The best way to narrate mythology is not through serials or videos but by storytelling, especially when a mother does it. She adds her own emotions, experience and dialogues to the narration, making it more relatable for the child.
The general notion behind mythology is that they are just stories of a bygone era, and that they hardly render anything to the present times. But, I think it’s more relevant now than ever before.
Through mythology one can help kids imbibe morals and good values. It will help ignite the process of knowing and understanding various emotions like devotion, selflessness, true love, dedication, sacrifice and many more aspects of human nature.
Mythological stories give wings to a young mind’s imagination. Thinking outside the box is a requisite for today’s world. Every child is unique and so is their imagination. Parents however, often kill their children’s imagination, thinking it to be silly and calling it unrealistic. Innovation always comes from imagination, and thinking outside the box.
Pick up any mythological story, it has flying chariots, characters with magical powers, multiple incarnations and so on. Nothing is real but it definitely ignites the creative spark in young minds.
As the kids grow older they can easily differentiate between myth and reality but this does not stop them from being creative in their own way.
Mythology is an integral part of our culture. It helps us know why are certain rituals followed in the society also how a community thinks and functions.
We celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps and diyas, making delicacies and spending time with friends and family. But, do we care to tell our kids the reason behind the celebration? And help them to relate and connect more to the festival celebrated.
Ramayan is an epic that can help children understand Ram’s story and its relevance to our culture. Culture is what defines our society, and what we stand for. Culture helps us to stay connected with our roots.
Last year, on Dussehra my daughter asked me, “why are we burning Ravana?” That moment I realized the importance of stories. I narrated the bad deeds of Ravana and how Ram killed him not only to free Sita but to also rid humankind of his cruelties.
The mythological stories render a fair idea of good and evil at a very young age. Ego, lust, greed, self-centredness, all these lead to self-destruction, and the best way to explain them is through stories.
We can have a healthy and progressive society only when both the genders respect each other. Our mythology is an ode to feminism.
Pick up any epic or famous mythological story, the female characters play a powerful role. They have taken bold decisions and were not dependent on men.
It is important to expose young boys and girls to powerful women figures. And teach them that women are not meek or fragile. They can be equally fierce, bold and strong. Both the epics (Ramayana & Mahabharata) beautifully portray how disrespect towards women can lead to wars and the end of the mightiest man or kingdom on earth.
Mythology helps us understand that the essence of co-existence in a respectful environment is essential for the humankind to thrive.
Good traits help in character building. But, how can we help our kids develop good traits? There are two approaches to attain this.
As a parent we need to show those traits in our behaviour, or narrate stories that would help kids inculcate those traits.
Ethics, sticking to commitments, devotion, sacrifice, loyalty, truthfulness could be understood by several powerful figures from mythological stories who were known for those traits.
Sravan kumar was known for his devotion towards his parents, Yudhistir for never telling a lie, Karna for his loyalty to his friend Duyodhna, Ekalavya for his dedication and respect for his teacher and the list is endless. Hindu mythological stories have lot to offer when it comes to character building.
In today’s fast paced world we hardly see these traits in a person. All we get to hear or witness is negative traits, diplomacy or cheating. These stories can help to build a progressive society that we are all dreaming of.
1.Famous illustrated tales of Krishna
I introduced mythology to my twinnies with this book as little Krishna always fascinates young kids. It’s a well illustrated and coloured book that narrates stories right from Krishna’s birth, till he killed his uncle Kansa at the the age of twelve, and includes all other important tales in between.
Good read for kids of age – 3 -3.5 yrs +
2. Famous illustrated tales of Ramayana
Ramayana is an epic that every child should read. This book beautifully portrays the morals and good values that Ram possessed that gave him the status of not just king but the Lord of the Universe.
Good read for kids of age – 3- 3.5 + yrs
3. ‘The Boys Who Fought’ by Devdutt Pattanaik
Devdutt Pattanaik is an author who has simplified mythology not only for adults but kids too. He beautifully pens the stories from Mahabharata for young minds to understand.
Good Read for kids of age 4+ yrs
4. ‘The Gita For Children’ by Roopa Pai
The author has narrated the nuances of one the greatest conversations in Hindu Mythology, in a simple but thought-provoking way. This book is a great read for all ages.
Good Read for kids of 7+ yrs
Mythological stories can do wonders when introduced at a tender age. As the mind of young children is unadulterated and pure. They are like clay that could be moulded easily. Good traits, morals and values could be introduced by telling them about strong figures in the mythological stories.
I find the relevance of mythology today more than ever before, to create a better and more rational society.
Picture Credits: Amar Chitra Katha
First published here.
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Mommy of two tiny tots, an ex Banker by profession. Passionate Odissi and Kathak dancer.
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