Title: Mythonama – The Big Book of Indian Mythologies
Authors: Mudita Chauhan-Mubayi and Adittya Nath Mubayi
Age group: 10 years+
Mythonama is a wonderfully researched comprehensive foray into Indian Mythology – true to its name – The Big Book of Indian Mythology, written by Mudita Chauhan-Mubayi and Adittya Nath Mubayi.
The authors explain right at the outset that the important thing in the myth is to find its core idea – then we find that it quickly transcends a fantastic story with imaginary characters in hypothetical situations to lessons of friendship, loyalty, sportsmanship and even sustainability – that are truly the gems waiting to be discovered in these stories.
Across thirteen chapters, the authors start right at the beginning with creation myths and whisk us in the worlds of Gods and legendary places, fantastic beasts and almighty weapons, famed battles and celestial celebrations. In each chapter, the authors look at the diverse religions that our country is home to, from Hindu, Islamic, Christian to Sikh, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Jain and Buddhists.
The meticulously researched information is presented carefully in well organized bits so as to not overwhelm the reader. The puzzles, crosswords, fill in the blanks and fun activities make it easy to quickly absorb and share the book with a child or a friend. There are often nudges to set off a child on a journey of discovery, as they look up answers not contained in the book or try to create a playlist for Tara. The artwork in black and white is eye-catching.
As a person who loves mythology, this book was a complete treat in its exhaustive coverage. There was plenty of knowledge to savor and it was conveyed very effectively in delicious chunks. The authors are avid quizzers and they love shows! The plethora of activities make it a perfect summer/weekend companion to embark on a legendary journey each time. (I can sense a whole summer camp coming out of this!)
The author’s note in the beginning, says mythology does not equal religion. I think these stories are our stories, of where we came from, what we heard, what our elders chose as their acceptable version of God, good vs evil, reasons to be bestowed by immortality, the significance of the festivals of our regions. The power of this book, is seeing the different myths at once, one can as easily see the common threads – the same questions that plague us, the same desire to know where we came from, links to the nature around us and celebrating what we value together. It is truly important that we realize that these stories can unite us in understanding that religions are mere manifestations of ideologies to create a way to better ourselves and live in harmony with our surroundings. Irrespective of what mythology you pick, you will find that this holds true. Once children understand this, you will see, that knowing religion makes you secular automatically.
The only thing I missed was the actual telling of the stories. These myths are linked to memories in dramatic voices and exaggerated acting by a grandparent or a parent and these are a part of these stories. Here, since the information is vast, the stories are dispensed as a quick narrative, information nugget, intended to set off a desire to discover more. Maybe a companion book or suggestions of where to read or even a QR code that leads to an audio narration may make this an absolutely perfect experience.
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