Quirky Books: Hindu Stories by Anita Ganeri

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hindu Stories by Anita Ganeri

Author Anita Ganeri wrote over 100 books and won the Royal Canadian Geographical Society Silver Award. Born in Calcutta India, she moved to England. About Hinduism, it features seven major stories from the Hindu Religion. The Introduction is brief and relays a few facts about the Hindu Religion. The illustrations are colorful and powerful; however, it reminds me of a children's book. If completely unfamiliar with the religion it is a great way start. It is written in high school level English and includes a glossary.

Carole Gray illustrated many books related to the Hindu Religion. One book is entitled "the Devali Small Book." Gray's illustrations have a clean, traditional style and photographs depicting specific events. Gray's illustrations remind me of the Ancient Artwork of India seen in historical books. The colors are pronounced and vibrant. They are detailed and show depth. You can see the modernization in the gradient and use of highlights. One article briefly explanations about holiday customs related to Diwali with "Rama Rescues Sita."

"Rama Rescues Sita" is a tale of a jealous step-mother trying to take power from the eldest son, Rama, by banishing him into the woods. After the evil step-mother sent a demon after him, the God Hanuman intercedes to correct the misdeed. A demon kidnapped, Sita, Rama's wife. In the end Hanuman saves the day and Rama becomes Emperor. The demon Ravana tried to kill Rama with a golden arrow given to him by the God's. Instead of killing Rama the arrow came back and killed him. Now people give gifts during the holiday. I suppose the parable is to be careful and not use gifts to harm other people. If misused, they will come back in harmful ways.

Another point of confusion is how Shiva destroys the universe to recreate it. I guess it is similar to death; if death is an end to start new beginnings. Hindus may believe in resurrection. On several points, despite the glossary in the back, I feel additional explanation is required to interpret context correctly. For this reason, I believe this book's main purpose is to create an atmosphere for parents to explain religious messages to their children.

If interested in the Hindu stories, it is a good resource. It is short and explains major concepts quickly. It provides a base for further learning. Often confusing, remembering the name of each God is difficult. There were a few times I had to review the story to find the significance of a given character. I recommend this book to anyone with a finite knowledge of Hinduism. It builds a basic recognition of the Gods, concepts, and characters.