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  • Writer's pictureSaY India

"SaY" it with a Mission: Securing our Heritage

Spin A Yarn India is on a mammoth cultural mission to preserve the magical fairytales, folklore and fables of India.

We have all grown up on stories narrated to us by our grandparents, parents and other elders in the family. Those were the good old days when we would lie beside our aajis and azoba, daadis or naanis, as they took us on fantasy journeys with their tales — from turtles who talk too much, jackals and mangos, to tigers and laughing fish, folk tales delighted people of all ages with beautiful narratives on friendship, morality and philosophy. Clever tricksters, nefarious villains and brave heroes made up the compelling and enduring folk history of India.

The rich culture and vast landscape of India come alive in our ancient folk tales and folklore. Indian folklore and fairy tales have entertained and enlightened generations, since the dawn of language to modern time, with ballads of heroes, so beloved, they are deified and worshiped around the continent, and with epic poetry that strengthens and heralds a community’s shared values.

The oral folktales of the Indian sub-continent are a remarkable blend of storytelling motifs and traditions, influenced by Hinduism, Indian folk tales are robust with central religious figures and moral lessons; they were used to preserve history, important people and places, as well as the religious rites and ceremonies of various Indian regions. Most Sanskrit fables were written as children’s stories to teach youth important life philosophies, so they would grow up to be wise and responsible adults. This was especially true for the Hitopadesha stories written by Narayana, whose title literally translates as “to counsel or advise with benevolence.”

At Spin A Yarn India we worried that the steady creep of modernisation – particularly the modern digital age – will erode and wipe out India's cultural heritage. So we have set out on this mammoth academic project called Stories from India and Around The World to collecting and index stories to preserve for future generations.

Members of the public and academics from university literature departments around the country can submit a fairytale to Spin A Yarn India's online portal, where it is then examined, categorised and archived for future generations.

The stories are indexed according to which regions they are from and which of five different types of stories: animal tales, magical or extraordinary tales, realistic tales and humorous tales.

There are often several different variants of one story, requiring painstaking cross-referencing to figure out how a tale can differ over time from one region to another. For example, there are over 20 different versions of Chal re Bhoplya Tunuk Tunuk!

If a submitted tale is approved it becomes part of Spin A Yarn India's online database, which will eventually be available to the public. More than 3,300 tales have been collected from 77 different areas to date. We are hoping that the the corpus will be completed by February 2022.

Motifs such as magic carpets, animals and birds gifted with speech and enchanted mirrors, apples and pomegranates echo throughout the canon. Characters who brave the dragons and giants serpents or survive a trek across the desert are rewarded with marriage proposals in beautiful gardens, and the magical animals are always on hand to help a hero out of a tight spot.

“Fairytales teach us to wonder, to use reason, to be patient, to dream, to overcome obstacles, not to be intimidated, to struggle, to be good people, to fight against evil, to tell the truth, to detect lies and deceit, to resist, and to listen. These values are universal human values: times change, people don’t”, says Madhurata Deshmukh, the Storyteller-in-Chief who hopes that academics, writers and artists will be able to draw on the project’s database of stories for generations and generations to come.


Who We Are:

At Spin A Yarn India: our mission is to become the primary outlet of children focused content by encouraging the participation of India’s latent indigenous story telling creativity, knowledge, and culture.

It is through stories that we define our identity, express our history and culture, learn and engage in all aspects of society. Stories are not only the first medium for communication, education and social integration, but are also at the heart of each person’s unique identity, cultural history and memory.

Spin A Yarn India has created a platform to enable “Storytellers” to come together to discover and share their passion for stories. A community of creators, dreamers and explorers united by their love for great stories.

Spin A Yarn India is a partner of the United Nations Indigenous Language and the Bhasha Sangam programs. Spin A Yarn India runs as a social enterprise. Profit is reinvested to support children from underprivileged backgrounds to gain access to books, education and in general to improve the literacy of families across India.


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