Djinn and tonic: Of boons, mythology and stories

Deccan Chronicle.  | Bindu Gopal Rao

Lifestyle, Books and Art

‘Tathaastu’, a performance by storyteller Meera Venkatesan, unearths a rich library of ‘boons’ in Indian folklore and mythology. T

Jyothi Kunjoor.

In Indian mythology, praying to the Gods for favours and having those demands met as ‘boons’ is the basis of Yagnas or rituals. It is a system of exchange, writes Devdutt Pattanaik in Business Sutras - the Yajaman initiates a ritual, makes offerings into agni, exclaiming ‘svaha’. The devta, or chosen deity, then grants the wish with the proclamation ‘Tathastu’, or ‘so it shall be.’ Then again, the business of making wishes is tricky, the process of having them come true, even more so!

‘Tathaastu’, a performance by storyteller Meera Venkatesan, unearths a rich library of ‘boons’ in Indian folklore and mythology. The stories are funny and quirky in some instances, dark and dangerous in others. All in all, this carefully selected bouquet of stories makes for a gripping evening. The performance has been put together by Jyothi, Meera and Parvathy, professional performance storytellers who share an innate love of stories and a combined experience of over 20 years in the field.  

The performance marks the start of the festival season. “We wanted to talk about the boon in Indian mythology through a performance, especially to a generation whose collective interest in the subject is fading,” says Venkatesan. With the ‘boon’ forming the connecting thread between the stories, the evening’s performance will see different narrative styles, both traditional and out of the box.

Both Meera and Parvathy Eswaran started their training at Kathalaya workshops. “Twice a month, we do a 30-minute storytelling session at a public park in HSR Layout to reach out to children of various strata,” says Parvathy. “Given an opportunity, we would like to replicate this in other public parks as well. We believe stories are all around us and I would like to spread storytelling across all ages, both for entertainment and as an educational tool.”

Tathaastu will see Meera, Parvathi and me collaborating for the very first time,” says Jyothi Kunjoor. Given Meera’s aptitude for creativity, Parvathy’s talent for theatrics and my love for music, “Tathaastu” promises to be a unique effort in the annals of Bangalore’s vibrant storytelling scene. While I immensely enjoy narrating stories to children, I would love to conduct more storytelling sessions for adults in the future, with workshops thrown in for good measure.” The show promises to be all things fun with a strong undercurrent of stories that is sure to keep you hooked and booked this weekend. “As a storyteller, I would love to reach this skill to as many people as I can, across all ages and levels. Hopefully storytelling would become as much an omnipresent and recognised skills, as technology skills are today,” concludes Venkatesan.

What: Tathaastu: Stories on Boons from Indian Mythology  
When: August 25, 11 am to 12 pm
Where: MyBoTree, 5th Block, Koramangala

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