Gained in translation: Folk literature and other ‘gospel truths’ from Kerala

Kottarathil Sankunni’s Aithihyamaala (Garland of Legend), a popular lore and legends from Kerala, has now been translated into English by Vrinda Varma

Kottarathil Sankunni’s Aithihyamaala (Garland of Legend) is one of the most popular one-of-its-kind collections of lore and legends from Kerala. It is a classic and a true chronicle of Kerala history, albeit with kings, warriors, elephants, deities, sirens, sorcerers and wizards.

Stories like the Kadamattathu Kathanaaar, an exorcist of yore, who has inspired a television series; Kaayamkulam Kochunni, the highway bandit, which was released in its umpteenth movie version as late as 2018; stories of the Pambarambathu Kodanbharaniyile Uppumanga and Parayi Petta Panthirikulam have always been a part of every Malayali’s childhood memories.

Dr Vrinda Varma, assistant professor of English at the Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, took up the highly-ambitious project of translating 75 of the 128 stories into English.

The magnum opus—Lore, Legends and Folktales from Kerala published by DC Books—hit the bookstands last Christmas. Written for the global contemporary reader, this is a must-have in every Malayali home.

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