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Move over Harry Potter

New comic series makes Indian mythology more relatable to children in modern India, features stories of Gods, their friends and their devotees. It even highlights value systems that can be applied in day-to-day life.

books Updated: Dec 27, 2010 14:47 IST
Sneha Mahale

Ever wondered if the Ramayan or Mahabharat connected with the average Indian child? Well, a new comic series no longer leaves anything to the imagination. Titled Forgotten Tales, these stories revolve around characters that stand for the common people with common struggles in contemporary times and have a mythological twist added to them to help impart values and create awareness about Indian culture. This series is available free online onwww.pushpuck.com.

“It was my desire to share India, as I know it, with my children and I thought it would be a good idea to expose them to Indian myths and what it means it to be an Indian, in relation to our culture, heritage and values,” says Umesh Shukla, creator of Forgotten Tales and www.pushpuck.com. He then thought that there might be other parents who may want to share India with their children just like he did. And with that in mind, he started to write comics. He decided that first three stories related to the night when Ram returns to Ayodhya, had to be available before this Diwali and released Tarak, the first story, on September 1, 2010. The two other books, Lahoo and Shantlal, released soon after.

ramamyanWhile most stories in Indian mythology focus on the Gods themselves, Forgotten Tales are about the people around the Gods, their friends and their devotees – human and animals alike. They even highlight value systems. Shukla says, "My challenge is to create characters contemporary enough for my readers to relate to, yet faithfully based in the ancient times." The first three stories currently available are about Ram, and the next two about Krishna.

The protagonists are children, who take the tales forward. “Children like reading stories about children; a similar age helps them identify with the central character and their struggles, both internal and external,” he says. Regarding the child characters, they all have their struggles and emerge stronger at the end. To ensure that his message reached a wide audience, Shukla published his books online. “I wanted to control the timing of the release of the books, and making them available on the web and Apple App Store seemed to be the best option.”

Next up are two comic books. One is typically Manga (Japanese comic book style) in look and feel, and the other Shukla is working on has stories that take place in the present.

The plots:
Tarak tells the story of a young orphan boy, who is faced with finding ways to welcome Prince Ram's return to his capital city of Ayodhya while making his daily living playing a dhol (drum). Then Ram himself comes to show what the true value of celebration means.

Lahoo is the story of a young archer who sets out to defend the values he was brought up with, the day before Ram's return, and discovers instead, the magic that true compassion brings.

Shantlal is the story of the daughter of Jatayu, who grows up hearing stories about him, as he was killed before she was born. It focuses on a character that is lost in history.