Creation myths are always fascinating to read, more so when the story is rooted in Indian mythology. Shiva Loves to Dance is the story of how the world came into being with the dance of Shiva.
Gittoo is excited because he is going to watch his sister Gauri dance on stage. But he is puzzled when he sees her offering flowers to a statue of Shiva. He enjoys watching his sister dance, but once he gets back home, he wants to know the significance of Shiva’s statue on the stage. Mama tells him the story of how Shiva’s little damaru sounded along with the jingle of his anklets and how the continents, mountains, valleys and plains were formed. As Shiva danced, the River Ganga was born and sounds started to appear. Mama explains how the whole universe began to move to the sound of Shiva’s damaru. By the time Gittoo falls asleep, he knows how the world was formed and has understood why Gauri offered flowers to the statue of Shiva.
The story of what happens when Shiva dances is presented within the framework of a bedtime story, narrated by a mother to her little son. This format is familiar and provides scope for storytelling and explanations for the many ‘Why? When? How?’ questions that are likely to come up. There is even an explanation for why it is okay for Gittoo to stay up late – the next day is Saturday, and therefore, not a school day.
Unfortunately, the narrative fails to utilise the advantages offered by the setting, and what could have been a playful storytelling session ends up as a lesson handed out to the child. It is clear that the writer has done her best to narrate a rather difficult concept in easy language, but there are times when she fails. The result is a story peppered with words that weigh the narrative down and that are beyond the scope of the young readers for whom this book is meant.
However, the format and size of the book are very attractive for the intended audience. The illustrations too are sure to appeal to children.
By Nandini Nayar
SHIVA LOVES TO DANCE
Author: Anita Raina-Thapan
Illustrator: Roma Singh
Tota Books, 2015
Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction/Picture Book