GANGTOK, 09 July: A group of young story tellers under the banner of Acoustic Traditional, a Bangalore based NGO launched a nine-month long campaign ‘One Tribe’ to rediscover the folk tales among different communities about the mythical snowman – the Yeti. The organisation this time aims to conduct a study on the Yeti in the eastern Himalayan region covering Nepal, Sikkim and few of the North Eastern states and some other states of India. Apart from that, the organisation also has plans of conducting a National Story Telling session based on myths and legends in particular.
Speaking to the media at the Press Club of Sikkim today, the Acoustic Traditional founder, Silal Mukhia, informed that they plan to stay in Sikkim for around 25 days during which the organisation will be visiting schools and hold storytelling sessions.
He added that the organisation had visited Sikkim in the year 2010 and organised a confluence on storytellers and also prepared a 100 meters long banner using digital art [on traditional stories] which has been registered in the Limca Book of Records- 2012.
He went on to add that, a new hunt has begun to discover tales of the Yeti and document the oral history, myths and legends related to the ‘Big Foot’ that many believe existed in the Himalayan Region of Nepal and Tibet.
“There have been many myths and confusion surrounding the existence of the Yeti, we will explore the specific areas in the Eastern Himalayan Region where sightings of the Yeti have been reported,” he said.
Speaking about the organization, he stated that the organisation was formed in 1999 and the members of Acoustic Traditional, mostly young tribals, are working with fifteen communities’ story tellers across the country to record their myths and legends.
“It is a voluntary organization based in Bangalore that works to promote oral storytelling and tribal folklore, especially of the mountain and forest-based communities”, Salil added.
During the nine-month long venture the team comprising of six members will explore parts of Sikkim, Darjeeling, Bhutan and Nepal interacting with the Shamans and the elderly who carry knowledge on Yeti.
He added that the members of the organization will spend a month in Sikkim and visit places such as Jawaharlal Nehru Road in East Sikkim, Sokphey in South, [a place named after the Yeti in Nepali ‘Sokpha’] and Samandim, a Western border between Sikkim and Darjeeling where the sightings of Yeti have been recorded in books written by some foresters and scholars.
“We have spoken to people of various communities and we believe that the yeti, ban jhankri and sokpa [another mythical creature that appears often in Nepali literature] are the same. Unlike people from the West who paint yeti as an abominable creature, local communities believe that it is a guide to the spiritual world on which shamanism is based,” he added.
Acoustic Traditional has already published “Lost Stories”, a book on oral storytelling about a year back. He added that lecturer at Gyalshing Government College and story teller Kachyo Lepcha is helping the team to reach out to the people of these areas. He also added that the findings and the research would be documented in the form of films and books.
“For the next one week we will finish all the official work of taking permission from the Sikkim Government to visit these places to avoid any kind of complications in the future” added, Abhishek Pradhan, a documentary film maker and also a team member.
This is also the first project of the upcoming Mountain Center for Study of Indigenous Story Telling Traditions in Darjeeling. The center will be an autonomous institute set up by Acoustic Traditional which will preserve indigenous oral history, folklores and many more which are on the verge of extinction. It will also help in research work related to indigenous studies, added Abhishek.