A College Student and Her Fairytales, Part 13 – Kings Aplenty!

Published April 22, 2012 by srsfairytales

Our heroine could tell her time in the kingdom was winding down. There were so many visits from other kings that maybe King Esa had run out of wisdom to impart…

No, that couldn’t be it. Perish the thought.

Sammi had really enjoyed the presentation of Dr. Shabbir Mian, king of the strange and foreign kingdom of Physics. His discourse, which was entitled “Folk and Fairy Tales from Bangladesh,” had been thoroughly informative and just as interesting!

Bangladesh “fairy tales”, known as Rupkotha, had their similarities and their differences from the fairytales with which Sammi was familiar. Like many folktales, the stories were passed orrally; however, as King Mian pointed out, the stories never had any actual fairies (although, most stories Sammi knew had no fairies either); instead, they had demons, monsters, goddesses, and other various magical creatures. The stories embraced and embodied many aspects of the culture in Bangladesh, which were sometimes things that were not commonly found in more westernized stories (for example, rather than the wicked stepmother, Rupkothas showed the jealous co-wife). However, Sammi was able to find similar themes and motifs in the stories, such as life lessons embedded in the stories, talking animals offering assistance, and reader interpretations of sexuality and loss of sexuality (after all, Neelkamal and Lalkamal do take on vitality and sexuality when their father is incapable, although it is restored it to him in the end).

Sammi was also intrigued to see some archetypal differences from what she was used to. For example, she was very interested to learn that, in Bangladesh, red was considered to be a very pure and beautiful color, rather than being associated with lust, passion, and violence. Thus why the human son (Lalkamal) was labeled with the color red, while his demon brother was labeled with the color blue (which western culture often defines as the more tranquil, good-natured color).

Who could forget the colors in the unusual and yet incredibly interesting version of Neelkamal and Lalkamal's tale, "Blue Lotus and Red Lotus"?

All in all, what Sammi took from the lecture was that, even though cultures may be different, there are still many of the same themes, morals, and desires expressed in fairytales from around the world. She felt like she had learned a lot about the beauty of Bangladeshi fairytale tradition, and she was happy to know it.

Now, if only she could get the eerie voices from the aforementioned video out of her head…

To be continued…

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