“Gudiya, ek shloka to bol do!” says BabyA’s Dadu. Pat comes the reply, “My favourite shloka is Billiwali girlfriend choddh chaadh ke“. Sigh! She’s been going for Sanskaar class since a year, and this is the result! Bollywood creates stars in everyone’s eyes, and a child who is intentionally not exposed to its music, is still more attracted by the catchiness of its numbers rather than the shlokas she has learnt.
Yeah- they now have classes for things that your grandparents and parents taught you, like Sanskaar. With people choosing to increasingly live in nuclear families, there are no grandparents (or even parents sometimes) to teach mythology and “our culture” to the kids. In the age of outsourcing, everything must be outsourced and luckily there are structured classes for this sort of thing.
BabyA once saw a Sheshnag statue when we took her to our family mandir in my husband’s ancestral hometown, Bikaner. After that, for a month, she was keen on knowing what the Sheshnag story was, but no one knew it in entirety: from her father to his grandmother. Of course, we then turned to our faithful Ghar ke Bade– the village elder with all the stories, Googleji but there were so many variations of the same story (none matching the one my husband had been told) that he rejected all the versions and decided that till the right one was found, she had to live without knowing (and made no attempts to research further).
A lot of elders may think it’s atrocious that the kids aren’t learning anything about “our dharma” but it’s not only the parents’ fault. I live in a large joint family on both sides (natal and marital): the sad part is that the great grand parents who told us the stories, can no longer volunteer with their diminishing memories. The direct grandparents aren’t as well informed to begin with so sometimes they don’t have confidence in their half-baked versions. And then there’s us parents- who can’t find the time from scheduling their classes, doing their homework, etc. to educate ourselves on the topic.
So the only solution I could find was to enroll her in a class for this too, and buy loads of mythological books to read out to her. I guess there aren’t any dadima ki kahaaniyan left (along with no Dadima ke nuskhe/ Grandma’s home remedies) since all the dadis and nanis no longer look like grandmas at all.
Grandparents and parents have become so modern and disconnected from the stories and the mode of transmitting culture through the art of oral story telling, that either the stories will be lost, or (more likely) we will create our own new stories- wading through our swampy imaginations and finding a way to fly, on the famous magic carpet, which has always promised to make us travel everywhere while never having to leave home.