The challenge in reading Indian mythology to young kids

The truth is that while these stories are illustrated in comic-book style to appeal to children, not all of them are suited for little kids.

What’s not to like about Indian mythology? Powerful Gods and their myriad weapons and vehicles, equally powerful Rakshasas or demons sporting multiple heads and other eye-popping features, tales of special boons and awful curses, demi-Gods with boundless valor, princesses with unparalleled beauty and virtue , epic battles between good and evil where justice finally prevails….need I say more?

Indians know these stories well because of that beloved series of comic books, Amar Chitra Katha(ACK), without which these myths, orally told and passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years, would have been lost.

The ACK books were part of many of my summers growing up. And I was very eager to share these stories/books with my kids. So I was thrilled when my daughter received her first set of books “Tales of Shiva” as a gift when she was as young as four.

tales of shiva

In retrospect, that wasn’t the ideal age to introduce those books to her. The vivid, detailed drawings of ACK are its hallmark. Yet those illustrations scared her. On seeing Shiva burn Kama to ashes with his third eye, my 4 – year old shut the book quickly and declared, “Shiva is bad”.

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Always Anjali

What’s in a name? If you are a child of immigrants growing up in the America, apparently everything.

I remember spending a lot of time obsessing about what I would name my first child. Indeed, all first-time parents obsess over finding the perfect name for their child. But we faced a particular challenge being Indian. After all, hadn’t we had enough of our names being mispronounced? Weren’t we tired of spelling out our long last names only to hear the other guy say “am sorry, could you repeat that”?

Maybe we should do our kid a favor and just stick to two syllables so the name would be easy to pronounce. There were certain letters we would have to avoid…those soft d’s and soft t’s that native English speakers never seemed to be able to pronounce….those were always going to be a problem. And we would have to be careful to avoid giving the child a name that would mean something totally gross in another language or which kids would make fun of.

Wouldn’t you know it? We ended up falling in love with a name that broke almost all our rules.

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