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Performance, Appropriation and Adaptation: A Case of Vrat Kathas

Girija Suri

Ph.D Research Scholar, Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.03

The rich folklore of India poses a challenge to any attempts at its analysis owing to the extremely rich layers of history behind it. Indian folklore is a complex blend of myriad cultures, traditions, myths and legends that have been handed down from generations, significantly through the oral tradition. This peculiar feature of orality that defines Indian folklore viz. stories, songs, dances etc., demands that the method of its study must be multi-dimensional, unconventional and holistic.  This paper seeks to study one of the folk traditions of storytelling, namely the vrat katha. The discussion will centre on the ways in which the textuality of the vrat-katha as a religious story is defined in great measure through its performance. Furthermore, the different ways in which the vrat katha seeks to perpetuate as well as subvert the dominant orthodox ideologies is sought to be explored. Lastly, the appropriation of the vrat kathas through media, for instance cinema, the formation of cults, the impact of adaptations on the original text and meaning of the katha remains a relevant question to be considered.

     Oral tradition of storytelling has always been an important part of India’s culture. Till today, ordinary village folk assemble to listen to stories, epigrammatic tales, proverbs and parables, which are considered as a source of ancient wisdom and a commentary on contemporary values. The source of these stories, as well as those that form part of vrat-kathas are often identified as Kathasaritsagara (c. A.D. 1100), Vedic ritual manuals, Mahabharata (c. 400 B.C.- A.D. 400), Buddhist Jatakas (c. 300 B.C.) and the Panchatantra. Often these stories refer to the magical and shamanistic powers, belief in ghosts and spirits and so on…Full Text PDF>>