Published: 28th July 2021
Meet Lopamudra Mohanty, an Odia storyteller who's getting kids to fall in love with their mother tongues
Lopamudra Mohanty has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember and now to ensure that children don't forget their mother tongue, this is the latest programme that she has initiated
What a sad state of affairs it must be when our mother tongue seems foreign to us. With English being the language of communication, even among children and parents in urban households, this is a scenario that will surely see an upward swing. But how do we help children get back to their roots before it's too late? This question has troubled Lopamudra Mohanty to no end.
They have a programme called BRASMER (Blended, Reading, Art, Science, Maths, English and Responsible) storytelling for teachers, parents and volunteers of NGOs to use storytelling as a pedagogical tool
The master storyteller who was born and brought up in Odisha is close to her own language, Odia and since she has her own storytelling platform, BBW Education AKA Big Buddy World, she recently came up with a new programme directed towards mother tongues. "Whenever I was invited to storytelling events, I would always be encouraged to narrate them in English. Why not other local languages?" she wonders. So in the year 2019, under Big Buddy World, which also happens to be the name her students have given to her, she initiated Project IBAK (Indian Bhasha Art Architecture and Kahani) which has something for adults as well as children.
With the kids
Under Project IBAK, what catches our attention the most is YILC (Young Indian Language Crusader), a four-month-long programme directed towards children. Students form groups of three or four and are led by a project leader. Every month has a theme to it — culture and tradition, heritage sites, folk tales and so on. Every child is required to shoot a ten-minute video of them narrating a tale around the allotted theme every month. For posterity, these videos are uploaded on Big Buddy World's YouTube channel as well, along with a written gist of the story in English. "Even if it's a short story, children have found the task of narrating it difficult, but they are learning throughout the journey. More so, their parents too are naturally involved which helps them bond," explains the 49-year-old.
ILSM (Indian Language Storytelling Mandala) for adult is all about recording videos of regional stories in their own mother tongue
Apart from well-known languages like Hindi, Marathi and Telugu, they have lesser-known languages like Bishnupriya Manipuri, Magahi and many more, which is a source of delight. "Since children might be facing the camera for the first time to narrate, we train them on how to look at the camera, how to make the story engaging visually and other skills," says Lopamudra who is currently based in Mumbai.
In her element
As a storyteller who started off in Delhi Public School, Surat in 1996, Lopamudra has gone on to share her stories at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Tata Literature Live! and several other national and international platforms. Before starting Big Buddy World, via which she develops reading and storytelling programmes for children and adults, she even co-founded The Orange Wedges on similar lines. "As a volunteer at Bookwallah Organization, we were able to set up libraries in underprivileged areas and conduct readings. It is here that I felt the profound positive impact of storytelling which is how I made it my vocation," says the storyteller who has a PG Diploma in Rural Management from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. But this is her first crusade to increase mother language footprint via storytelling. They have many other programmes like book reading clubs, reading under trees and many more, most of which are running seamlessly online for now.
For more check out their Instagram handle @bigbuddyworld