Why the Bangalore Storytelling Society is rekindling the dying spark of storytelling

Why the Bangalore Storytelling Society is rekindling the dying spark of storytelling


Bangalore Storytelling Society Activism

Proceedings of the Bangalore Storytelling Society | Photo courtesy: special arrangement

Storytelling is the oldest form of education and the art of storytelling has been an integral part of Indian culture. Our folktales and Panchtantra From mythology to grandparents' childhood favourite stories, India is a land of wonderful stories. Bangalore Storytelling Society (BSS) is one of the groups making a concerted effort to keep this fascinating art alive and relevant in today's digital world.

Formed in 2013, BSS is a collective of storytellers who have come together with the aim to promote and propagate the art of storytelling. “We are a group of seven passionate storytellers who started BSS as a registered body focusing on oral storytelling for adults,” says Vikram Sridhar. The core team, which comprises Aparna Athreya, Aparna Jaishankar, Lavanya Prasad, Ramya Srinidhi, Shailaja Sampath, Soumya Srinivasan and Vikram, ideate and execute all the activities of the collective.

Vikram says they have been successful in creating a platform where people from all walks of life come together and share their stories, resulting in creative collaboration, synergy of ideas, and ultimately community growth.

Human contact is important

Though stories can be told in many ways, BSS favours oral storytelling. Aparna Jaishankar says, “Oral storytelling provides the audience with a unique opportunity to experience human connection in terms of facial expressions and emotions. It helps people empathise, develop their imagination and creative thinking as well as improve their communication.”

Bangalore Storytelling Society Activism

Proceedings of the Bangalore Storytelling Society | Photo courtesy: special arrangement

He said that sharing stories helps people connect their past with the present and this creates an atmosphere of bonding and positivity. This is evident in the energy seen during the monthly meeting of BSS. The theme for the meeting is discussed, finalised and a call for storytellers is made on their social media handles and WhatsApp groups. These monthly meetings are free and most of them are open to people aged 16 years and above.

“The theme is usually topical and is decided based on current events and happenings. It is encouraging to see how the same theme can give rise to different perspectives and create diverse narratives. For example, we had the theme ‘Kursi’ for one of our meetings and it was interesting to hear different stories ranging from nostalgia to politics,” says Lavanya.

A plethora of events

BSS has been involved in a number of programmes and workshops, many of which are public collaborations. “We have been part of programmes organised by Rangoli Metro Art Centre, Gudiya Sambhram and BIC. We organised a series called Heads and Tails in collaboration with Rangoli Metro at Rangasthal, where families came together to listen to stories,” says Soumya.

Story Mania with a Mentor featured a professional storyteller teaching children how to perform for their family and friends. “It was an online story coaching platform for children aged five to 13,” says Shailaja.

Story Sans Borders was an effort by BSS to engage with stories and storytellers across language and profession barriers. “Through a process of careful selection, we invited people to share stories in their native languages. Stories were heard in 42 languages ​​during these sessions and were narrated by authors, businessmen and other professionals,” says Aparna Athreya.

Narrative Juice One notable project launched during the pandemic was to provide audiovisual stories to children in rural Karnataka, incorporating different learning concepts. These stories were recorded in multiple languages ​​spoken in Karnataka and included different dialects of Kannada, Konkani, and Tulu.

“In another project, BSS collaborated with INTACH’s Bangalore chapter to tell stories about Bangalore’s history and heritage to children studying in government schools,” says Ramya.

next on the calendar

Bangalore Storytelling Society Activism

Proceedings of the Bangalore Storytelling Society | Photo courtesy: special arrangement

BSS is now gearing up for its annual Bangalore Story Telling (BEST) festival later this year, where it organises a number of teaching and training programmes. It is a unique festival that highlights Bengaluru and serves as a bridge between traditional storytellers and contemporary practitioners. The festival has previously brought together some of the best names in the field of oral storytelling, including indigenous artists practising art forms such as Yakshagana, Bhut KolaPuppet and other such games, as well as some international games.

According to the core members, the philosophy of BSS is to create avenues for storytelling and provide a non-judgmental platform for both professionals and amateur storytellers. With an aim to make the art of storytelling accessible to all, BSS is working towards providing a safe space for people to practice and connect with this art.


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