Is it possible, even for a moment, to imagine a life without stories? In the words of Philip Pullman, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” We learn, love and live through stories. And stories are what we all secretly aspire to become. Very few things can compare to the joy of being lost in a good story. Storytellers then, naturally do a great service to mankind.
Dhara Kothari’s passion for storytelling resulted in Katha Kosa, a story club that intends to revive the forgotten art of storytelling, not only to educate and entertain but also to inspire and heal.
What separates Katha Kosa (translates to Treasury of Stories) from the rest is their desire to not just tell, but also create stories for kids and adults alike.
We spoke to Dhara about her love for storytelling and why the world needs more stories.
IB: Why did you feel the need to revive the art of storytelling?
Dhara: My mom was a natural storyteller and I just fell in love with it as a kid. I have always loved telling stories, right from the beginning. Be it the make-believe tales to my family, friends and teachers or the researched, real stuff during journalism.
I realised over the years that not just the next generation, but even the previous one has missed out on several good stories. Stories can be found everywhere! Hence, the passion within me just started overflowing.
IB: You’re an acupuncturist and a spiritualist. Do you believe that the art of storytelling can also have a soothing, healing effect?
Dhara: Yes—storytelling does act as a therapy that helps people deal with all sorts of emotional and mental stress. In fact, I feel that just like music, stories too are a great stress-buster. But very, very few people are aware of this.
Believe me, listening to a story is far better than anything else (besides mediation, of course) to make a person get over difficult times and bad memories. It has a healing effect and I can vouch for that.
It’s very unfortunate that the medical community in our country still doesn’t consider it as an option. Stories are one of the supporting therapies in medical centers and hospitals around the world except India, which ironically is a land of stories.
IB: How challenging is it to engage adults in storytelling, since it is often associated with children?
Dhara: Indians have a strong misconception that stories are for kids only. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Believe it or not, all our traditional stories—be it the Panchatantra, the Jataka tales and even mythology, are actually aimed at a mature audience. Children simply listen to them and laugh, largely unaware of the true values behind them. But the moral endings are a takeaway for those who have faced the challenges of life and have experienced the world.
Did you know that the Panchatantra was in fact written to teach life’s lessons to young princes (the future kings), in order to prepare them for the challenges they would encounter as a ruler?
And it is really tough to spread such a message. I am not just another storyteller who spends time entertaining kids and heads back home. I consider it my duty towards people of all ages: to tell them the truth and make them learn about the toughest lesson called ‘life’. Removing this misconception is like making people unlearn all that they have learned so far. Because what they know about stories is biased and therefore, incomplete.
Image Credit: Katha Kosa