In a commendable initiative to promote our age-old folklores among the younger generation, a compilation of folk stories from the Northeast was recently released in Dimapur. The book, which has folktales from all the eight States of the Northeast, is also marked by vivid and highly attractive illustrations. Folktales from the North East of India has been edited by Hekali Zhimomi, Lanusangla Tzudir and Akanito G Assumi. The illustrations were also done by Assumi. The book was released by NEZCC director Som Kamei.
During her tenure at NEZCC, Zhimomi worked tirelessly for the promotion and development of the art and culture of Northeast India. The recently released book is one such endeavour. Talking about the book, she says, “The folklore of a group of people carry their history, beliefs and creative imagination. The North East is a rich storehouse of folklores told and retold from generation to generation. To many communities of the Northeast, folktales are not just stories but a vital link to their past, enabling them to make sense of who they are as a people helping them preserve their unique cultural identity. With rapid changes and external influences fast affecting the communities of the Northeast, the stories have been silenced in many places and homes, particularly in the urban areas. This book, which is a compilation of folk stories from the north east, aims to reach out at children and help them connect to their roots, understand their history and identify with their cultural environment.”
The book has a total of forty folktales, five from each state. So while youngsters can now read the mythical tales of Tejimola and Queen Komola KOnwari of Assam, they can also at the same time learn about the origin of the Kwai eating habit of the people of Meghalaya. From the invention of the pena (a traditional music instrument of the Meiteis of Manipur) to how the Nagas stumbled across the procedure of making rice beer – the book truly touches upon a host of myriad topics that is bound to bring the reader closer to his cultural environs and appreciate his or her roots.
Lanusangla Tzudir has a doctorate in history from Jawaharlal Nehru University while Akanito G Assumi, who is a pass-out of the National Institute of Design, is an animation film designer, illustrator and photographer. Recalling how the project started, the editors said they had to travel a lot to gather materials for the book. Starting with a shaky foundation, the project took about a year to complete.