By Taj Nabi Khan

ISLAMABAD, Nov 29 (APP): Long before the arrival of modern-day electronic gadgets, it was the rich culture of bedtime storytelling traditions that used to engage children in cultural specific oral literature of folklores and folktales to transmit education, religious teachings, cultural and moral values to the next generation.

Over the years, the rich literary heritage of Pakistani languages has been preserved orally and transmitted from one generation to the other through storytelling traditions.
The folklores of the country contain the elements of rich cultural heritage as it remained home to so many ancient civilizations: Indus, Vedic, Persian, Indo-Greek and Islamic which had witnessed the influence of Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Mongols and the British. Kids are born with inquisitive nature, asking too many questions and seeking logical answers.

They had a natural quest to clear their minds about each and everything in their surroundings. However, it is almost impossible to quench their thirst of learning without taking help from the rich repertoire of Pakistani cultural heritage that is embedded in oral literary traditions and folk-wisdom. The grandparents, in the large and combined family system, often engage the youngsters in folktales packed with indigenous folk wisdom, intelligent quotes and proverbs.

Almost every village of Pakistan has hundreds of famous tales that are often repeated to children by parents, storytellers and sometimes in public festivals. It is through this tradition that thousands of stories have orally travelled across the generations.

Therefore, the revival of the diminishing storytelling traditions is of utmost importance for enriching the young minds with learning of good ideas and positive thinking.

Often before the sleep time, children listen more attentively; therefore, this time could be utilized in narrating folklores having the elements of entertainment, wisdom, deeds of good manners and characters.

Each Pakistani language has a unique repertoire of poems, songs, stories and proverbs associated with its origin, history and culture. Once it used to be an entertaining practice for enriching understanding and imagination of the children. But soon after the electronic gadgets become a commonplace phenomenon, both parents and kids have somehow lost interest in the oral storytelling tradition.

Talking to APP, Sherafsar Khattak, a social worker, has said, “Pakistani folk culture including the storytelling traditions are rapidly diminishing from the public sphere due to the forces of globalization, electronic media, and nuclear family system.”

He said parents were not giving proper time to their kids in terms of character building, personality development and mental growth. Storytelling is an easy tool to train the mind of youngsters about the concepts of ‘reward and punishment’ and ‘good deeds in life’, he added.

Zahid Aslam, a PhD Scholar while talking to the news agency has said that the mode of entertainment was changed from oral traditions to digitization and social media while taking the youngsters away from collective life and folk wisdom.

He said, “It was the dilemma of almost each and every parent that they couldn’t give time to their offspring.”  Therefore, the compulsive usage of electronic gadgets has brought about a negative impact on the society, individuals’ psychology, and social fabric at large, he added. Yasir Ali Shah, a school teacher has said that the folk tales carry multiple themes for developing a sense of understanding amongst the school-going children.

He said, “The storytelling tradition instills the spirit of good manners, parental love, compassionate attitude towards animals, other kids, fellow citizens, special persons, weaker segments of the society, and respect for the elders.” But unfortunately, parents were neither free to give proper time to their kids nor learning from the rich indigenous knowledge of the past generation, he added.