Even though I’m approaching my twenty-first birthday, I still have a childish love of folk tales. Of course, I grew up with western stories. I felt like trying something different. This is how I found Folk Tales of India – Andhra Pradesh in the library. It was a great discovery, as the book was fantastic. Collected by B. Rama Raju, this book is one of a many which contains folk tales from different parts of India. As you may have figured out, the state for this piece is Andhra Pradesh.
I can’t say too many negative things about this book, as it would be slightly culturally inappropriate. Even without this threat, I can’t think of a lot of criticisms. The 28 stories that had been featured in the book have been around for hundreds of years. The fact that they are still a part of their culture just shows how influential they are. If you want to get a basic understanding of what the people of Andhra Pradesh value, you should definitely read this book.
Even though they were created in a different culture to what I am used to, I managed to see some similarities. The rice story, or Tuni Justice as it’s called in this version, is one that I definitely remember from my childhood. A few other stories included similar traits: be humble, use your brain, work hard, and generally be a good person. The story that best captured this is The Dead Rat. Even if you don’t read the others, I suggest you look this one up. It has a good lesson. There are a few more I would recommend, but I think you should just read the book.
One of my favourite recurring elements of the stories were the Gods. It is nice to learn about Lakshmi and Mother Goddess. However, this wasn’t the best part. Raju included stories which demonstrated how it may be good to follow the Gods, you shouldn’t always believe everything you’re told. As this is placed towards the end of the book. In the first few chapters, the focus was on how the Gods will look after those that worship them. When it gets to The Story of Krusika, we realise that maybe some things we were told was a lie. Sometimes faith is more complicated than we’d like it to be. Getting this insight into the Indian culture was fascinating.
Of course, there are a few that I found dull, but that’s why I liked the book. They didn’t last long, so I could tolerate them for a second, or I could skip them altogether and it didn’t ruin anything. I think I only skipped two or three stories. For me, this is impressive. Like most of our folk tales, they can become repetitive after a while as there are only so many messages that can be done.
This book is worth 8.7/10. As Raju didn’t exactly create all of the stories himself and it became slightly repetitive, I can’t give it a perfect score. While most were entertaining, there were a few that I found dull or repetitive. You should definitely check it out if you see it, but I wouldn’t recommend hunting for it.
Discussion Point: I reviewed Aesop’s Fables a while ago and this got me thinking – what’s the main difference between a fable and a folktale? Which do you prefer?