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FOLK TALE
 

Story telling is the oldest traditional folk art. It is an intellectual hobby of some villager’s specially old men and women who are endowed with great tact, imagination, power of expression and dramatic action. To narrate a story is the easiest possible thing. We hear such narration of incidents in the market, in the field, on the footpath and anywhere and everywhere in the world. Such narration is no ordinary story telling. It demands greater sanctity, better attention of its listeners and peaceful village atmosphere. However educated, any and every man cannot be a storyteller. He is a man of genius possessing childlike simplicity, youthful spirit, sympathetic heart, colourful imagination and power to evoke emotion in others. He must be a man of amiable disposition, sound character and commanding personality with through mastery over the language to convince the young listeners of the truth of the incidents. The listeners must make their minds run after the story without stopping an asking to clear a doubt. They must weep or smile, wide open their eyes in wonder or curiosity or jump up in great delight, be of one mind and spirit with the teller. The secret of success lies in his sixth sense. His creative power, faithful delineation of characters, wide experience are great assets to him.

Folk-tales have their roots in the hoary past when man acquired the power of articulate expression. He proudly gave out his heroic feeling in case of hunting a ferocious tiger or lion or killing his inveterate enemy or narrated his pitiable lot in course of storm, flood, famine or each-quake. He used his rich imaginative power in devising the cause of the creation of his earth, expressed eternal interest in natural phenomena. He painted his rising feelings and emotions on the wall, sang them in song or expressed them in form of tales. Folk-tales are a part of current tales or some traditional social belief.

The gift of story telling comes as a part of racial inheritance. The folk-tales pass through lips of various people with divergent taste and power in different ages and in course of their narration change. That is why the different versions of the same story are traced in different places.

In Orissa villages, boys and girls assemble at the door of storyteller mainly an old woman on whom rests the charge of keeping the child in good humour. The child has finished up his play. He has no engagement at home but to disturb and trouble the mother and other members. So the best means devised to keep him calm and quiet is story telling. It makes him sit silently and patiently for hours, inculcates a habit of selfcontrol, a habit to hear others speak.

Evening is now gone. Stars twinkle Ploughmen take rest at heir doors. The village appears calm, serene and sacred. The grandmother starts her story with the following meaningless lines.

Let me tell you a story.

What story ? –Of a frog,

What frog ? –A wooden frog.

What wood ? –An oilman’s wood.

What oilman ? –Who moves a pressing machine.

What pressing machine ? –Of sugar cane.

What sugarcane ? –‘Kanthari’ sugarcane.

What Kanthari ? –An old woman who knows charms etc.

And she ends her story with the following :

My story ended; the flower plant died.

Well, flower plan, why did you die ?

The black cow ate me up.

Well black cow, why did you eat away the plant ?

The herdsman did not watch me.

Well, herdsman, why did you not watch the cow ?

The eldest daughter-in-law did not give me food.

Well daughter-in-law, why did you not give him food ?

The child wept.

Well child, why did you weep ?

I was bitten by a dusty black ant.

Well black ant, why did you bite the child ?

I live under the earth; when I find a soft flesh, I bite.

After the recitation of the first song, the lady asks the boys to choose subject matter. Should she tell the story of a king, a merchant, a tiger, a crocodile, a snake, a giant or a ghost ? Should she tell a story of sorrow or happiness or the experiences she had undergone in her long and chequered career? The boys and girls choose the tale according to their taste; differ a great deal from one another in their choice. For most of the stories were heard beforehand. If the issue remains undecided the old lady uses her discretion and starts, “Once upon a time there was a king or a merchant.” At each pause during the narration the listener has to say ‘hum’ as an encouragement to the narrator.

Folk-Stories are roughly classified into Legends and Folk-Tales. A legend is a narrative of things, which are believed to have happened about a historical personage, locality or event. But a Folk-Tale is a fully imaginary piece, which may not bear any relation to the real fact of life.

The legend of Sibei Santara is well-known throughout the province. This great architect of Emperor Narasingha Deb was given the charge of constructing the world-famous black pagoda of Konark. The place fixed for the construction was on the deep water of the river Chandrabhaga. The architect threw hundreds of cartloads of stones into the midst of the river to no effect. They were as said, swallowed up by Radhaba—a legendary Sea-Fish. He, however, could not detect his own mistake and discontinued the work in great despair. Once while going on his way fully exhausted, he was invited by an old lady for dinner and was given hot pudding. Sibei ate the hot pudding from the middle and not from one side and consequently burnt his hand but could not satisfy his hunger. The old lady remarked that he should not behave like Sibei whom he could not recognize. Sibei enquired her of his defects to which she said that in spite of his great-wisdom and skill n architecture, he lacked awfully in common sense. He tried to lay the foundation from the middle and not from one side and became unsuccessful in his endeavour. Sibei fully enlightened tried again in the new method and his efforts were crowned with success.

Another legend connected with the temple is the following. The temple could not be completed with strenuous efforts of 1200 architects who worked for 16 years. The emperor promulgated an order that they would all be beheaded if they were not able to complete the temple in another day. Dharma, a boy of twelve years of age who was in the womb when his father-Bisu came to Konark for construction, could, however, to his great credit and to the glory of the nation, complete the temple and saved the lives of 1200 architects.

The architects thought that to be defeated by a skilful boy of their own community though a great glory, is fraught with grave danger. The Emperor might on that account reward the boy and punish them all for worthlessness. They asked Bisu to choose on of the alternatives to discard the community or to sacrifice the son. Bisu chose the later. Before that, Dharma himself volunteered to sacrifice his life for the nation, jumped from the top of the temple into the sea.

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