Author Archive
Folk Beliefs
Magic
Myths
Narrative

Ramayana

Description: “So there’s this one called Ramayana. So the the pretense is like theres this demon in Sri Lanka who’s like gonna fuck up the whole world. I think it’s the whole world but the people who wrote the story didn’t know anything about anything outside of India, presumably. There’s like three main Hindu gods and one of them is like I’ve gotta go down there and destroy this man before he destroys earth, right? So he comes as a prince, or he’s born as a prince and he grows up into a very good prince/king everybody wants him to be the king. His dad who’s the king has many wives, right? And one of his wives who’s not Ram’s, the main character, direct mother, is jealous that her son is not the crowned prince. So like I forgot what the exact stipulation is but she puts some weird condition on the king where she had to send away like he had to send away Ram. And her actual son is Ram’s little brother and best friend who’s also like a great warrior and a great person. So they end up leaving. He takes his wife who’s like a princess from another kingdom in India. They encounter like all kinds of crazy phenomena. And they do all kinds of miracles and what not. He’s like a very good warrior with magic and fighting and stuff. Eventually, and keep in mind this is all precipitated by the god himself he needs all this to happen. He doesn’t speak on it, but he knows he’s the reincarnation of this god and he knows what his duty is truly at a certain point. And, there’s a point when they’re in their exile and he knows the peak of his duty is coming. So he calls on the god of fire and says can you protect my wife until this is all over. And so the god of fire takes his wife to his realm and leaves his wife with a fake version or a replacement that’s like exactly the same. Something like that. Eventually, like I don’t remember how exactly it happened, that demon king kidnaps the wife. They’re like alright we gotta go get her back. He also befriends a kingdom of ape like humans who are really strong like warriors and stuff.  He helps them. The man general guy, his name is Hanuman, like people have tattoos of him because he’s known to be really strong and stuff. He becomes one of their squad members and is like a really good fighter. They go down to Sri Lanka. I believe they bring an army and they build a rock- they build like a rock bridge to the Sri Lanka and they get there and they have camps. First the ape dude, Hanuman, he fights the demon and like beats his ass but something stops him from killing him. His tail catches on fire and he sets the whole demon kingdom on fire right? One of the demon king’s brothers who’s like a reasonable man. He’s like biologically a demon in the mythology but he’s not like a demon in the mind. He joins Ram’s faction, the good guys, and tells him all the secrets and trains him and like in ways in new magic and stuff that can like helm him defeat. I don’t know if that part is true or not actually. I don’t remember. Eventually there’s this huge war and it comes down to them shooting arrows at each other and what not. It’s this huge epic battle. Between the demon army versus Ram and his army. Eventually it comes down to them using magical god given arrows at each other. They’re clashing and like he finds out the only way to kill him is to shoot him in the naval. Eventually he gets him there and like he dies. That was the rough version. I haven’t read about it in over ten years.

2. My friend read stories like these when he was a child but it’s also transmitted by word of mouth as well.

3. I went into his dorm and asked if he could tell me some Hindi folklore. He said sure and started off with this one.

4. This is definitely a tale on an epic scale. I see a few similarities with Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is God born into a human body so that he may redeem the world. In this case He is 100% God and 100% a man. Ramayana is a god (small g) and is born into human form. From what my friend told me it doesn’t seem like the story is very clear on his deity versus his humanity. That’s just about the extent of the similarities though. As far as I could observe, Hindu people don’t exactly think that Ram was real. At least today they don’t.

Customs
Life cycle
Old age
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Kenyan Funerals

Description: “Since there are 42 tribes in old traditions. I’m in from four different tribes. Luya Kikuyu, Luo and Messai. For traditions we adhere to the Luo traditions the most. But even still it’s not, we’re kinda moving away from that. It’s kind of more for the older people.  After the person is taken to the funeral home, they’re brought back to the family home and put in a room, like where people are. If they had family near by. And then there’s a process of two or three days until the burial which normally happens close to the family home. There’s a burial site which is usually right near the home where the whole family is buried. The burial site is close to where you live as opposed to you being close to the burial site. It’s better to be buried with your family but if not that’s ok. But like in the city and like where I live people are buried in the cemetery. So there’s that difference compared like to my grandma’s place. There’s usually a service where they service food before the burial service and then everyone gathers around. A few people say a few speeches about the person. And then, after that the actual burial happens. They throw in roses at the coffin as it goes down there. Once it goes all the way down people will throw soil like take handfuls of soil and toss it in. If there’s enough time everyone will throw soil in but most of the time there’s not enough time so it’s usually just the main family characters, people that were close to the person. And then after that there’s also food is served. Traditional foods are like beef stew, mazen beans, rice, mashed potatoes, things like that.”

2. He knows about these customs because his grandmother told him. He’s been to some funerals but nothing exactly like this one.

3. I walked into his room and asked if he could tell me about Kenyan folklore. This was one that he told me.

4. Because Kenya is so new, It’s adopting the Western traditional methods of funerals. That’s why he’s only been to contemporary funerals. Still, there are not too many differences between his way of funerals and the Western way. We carry a lot of the same traditions and ideas.

Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Kenyan Independence Day

Description: Usually for independence day the president goes and gives a speech about how the country has been in the past few years and where we’re trying to go. It’s an olympic stadium. It’s got like a track and everything. I don’t usually go. I’d say mostly people with low wages go to it more. Most people just watch it on TV. There’s not any specific clothes you need to wear. There aren’t special foods to eat like there are in the States. We don’t really shoot off fireworks either. People celebrate independence day like with their family. You pretty much just stay home. Well, I mean, it differs from person to person.

2. He knows this because it’s celebrated every year and he participates by watching it on TV and spending time with family.

3. I walked into his dorm and asked him if he could tell me about Kenyan holidays. He told me about this one.

4. Because Kenya is a new country, it doesn’t have as much folklore as perhaps older countries. The majority of folklore I got from my friend was about the older traditions of the 42 tribes. Still, this provides insight into the social class system and practices of the modern Kenyan people.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Protection

Guru and the Boiling Water

Description: “Yeah so he (Guru Arjan) was like, i guess the Muslim invaders wanted him to comply to their invasion. I don’t know what the exact context was but he like refused so they like boiled him. Er they put like a metal slab with boiling water underneath him but since he’s so spiritually powerful it didn’t do anything to him. For like five days or something like that. Eventually the Muslims were successful. I think they, I don’t really know honestly, but I’m guessing they went to a village where he stayed and he was a spokesperson for those people, like a representative. So like they demanded something and he refused so they punished him. But he was so spiritually powerful it didn’t affect him. There were ten Sikh Gurus. They didn’t necessarily politically rule. I think some of the last one was a military leader too. He was a defence from invaders from Afghanistan and muslims on the east side. But this one was just a spiritual leader. He was just a spiritual leader. Most of these guys are just spiritual leaders.”

2. This was a story that he had seen in books but had also just heard by word of mouth as well.

3. I walked into his dorm and asked him if he could tell me some Hindu folklore. He gave me this one.

4. The Punjabi people obviously have a lot of respect for this man. He is seen as a goal for them all to strive for in their spiritual lives. He protects the weak and honors all as equals. This gives him immense power as an individual.

 

Legends
Magic
Narrative
Protection

Guru Arjan

Description: “Guru Arjan was the fifth guru in India. He was the leading spiritual leader when the muslims invaded India. And like Punjabi people are historically warrior people so they were able to resist the invasion. But the rest of india was engulfed. But the leader of the like muslims conquerers wanted to like meet with him. And like Sikh temples are called gurdwaras but they serve food to everybody because they believe in community service and making sure everybody has a meal. But everybody has to sit down on the floor because when the king came he was expecting like this nice reception. But when he got there they were like no we have to all sit down on the floor cause we’re all equals like there’s no difference between you and a homeless man, you know what I mean?”

2. This seemed like a tale that was told specifically by word of mouth.

3. I walked into his dorm and asked him to tell me some folklore. This was one that he told me.

4. This tale sheds light on the spiritualism that’s present in eastern India with the Punjabi people specifically. It also sheds light on their relationship with other nations. The seemed to have a particularly poor view of the Muslims and that’s represented in this Legend. Most people believe Guru Arjan to have actually existed. No one really knows if he had the powers that he is believed to have had.

 

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Myths
Narrative

Mahabharata

Description: “This one is called Mahabhrata. It’s really complicated. It starts off-idk if I can even describe this one, it’s so complicated. Basically it’s two royal families that descend from one and they like beef over the throne and the crowned prince of one family is like super arrogant and stuff and at the same time gods are intervening and things going on. And one of the main Hindu gods like comes down to help and like the whole thing culminates into an epic battle. In the big epic battle Krishna, the god, he’s like the prince from the moralistic family side. He’s this chariot guy. And the prince, the leader, pussies out in the end and he’s like how can I find my own family and he gives him a very long moralistic talk and it’s like very highly revered amongst like people who study it like theologians and stuff. It’s honestly super complicated. It’s really important in Hindi theology. Also, one of the older characters in the book is like a grand uncle who’s given immortality and he can die whenever he wants. At the end of the epic battle he’s like a great warrior but he’s old. He gets pierced with like a thousand arrows and gets like a bed of arrows to lay on that go through his body but he lays through it in pain just so he can see the end of the battle. And also, on the moralistic side of the family they go into exile for some reason. I forgot why. One of the brothers falls in love with this demon chick that can change forms and she’s really beautiful. And they have a son but they don’t live together or anything after they get married. They live in the forest. But the son comes to help them in the big battle and he’s just like this giant demon on the good guys side wrecking the other team. A demon is just a subspecies of human that has magical powers and like they’re generally evil. It’s comparable to a demon from western culture, but it’s not the same. They look like humans. In the movies they’re dark skinned. They have magical powers. They have some sort of weird practice, or what normal people would regard as weird practices. The only thing I can think of is the south indian people are darker skinned. I think there’s racism against them but I don’t know. I don’t think it ties to any of this. The motivational speech is the pivitol point in the story. It’s called the Bhagavad Gita. It has 700 verses. It’s pretty interesting. He gives it to him after the grappa guy dies. And it happens right before the final battle. At this point, the chariot guy is like I’m gonna show you my true form. The prince is a normal human being but the god granted him the power to see him in like god form. It was like a positive holy crap. He basically just talked about his role in Hindu spirituality and devotion and stuff. Theological devotion. It’s honestly like super complex. I think it’s something you should read if you want. It’s super important in Hindu theology.”

2. He knows this story from family and children’s books.

3. I walked into his dorm and asked him to tell me some Hindu folklore. This was one of them.

4. Obviously he may not be the right one to ask about this story. He hasn’t done too many in depth studies but it appears to be one of the most prolific Epics in all of Indian History. From this one tale you can pull out an entire world of Hindu belief systems. It’s almost like a story bible for a script. It has all the characters and creatures right there.

Dharma, Krishna. Mahabharata: The Greatest Spiritual Epic of All Time. Los Angeles, CA: Torchlight Pub., 1999. Print.

Folk Beliefs
Folk Dance
Holidays
Magic
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Nigerian Masquerades

Description: “In Nigeria a masquerade is basically, so here we have masquerades but they’re lie people in suits to represent what the masquerade looks like. And So like there’s these spirits that embody this certain emotion or spiritual energy or whatever. When you look at the mask it’ll be a mask and a bunch of colored rafia and like pieces of wooden jewelry. Depending on the different mask they may carry a fan or a machete or something. But like in Nigeria all of your parents would tell us stories about masquerades but that were like legitimate spirits not like a dude in a suit but people who would be around the masquerade when it was coming through villages dancing were people who believe in the masquerade’s power like and culturally you could not get close to a masquerade you’re not allowed to but nobody really wants to unless you’re like following the masquerade. Cause that’s some scary shit. My mom told me about this one that she saw when she was a little girl. First of all, you’re only supposed to watch from a distance like you can’t get close or anything like that unless you’re like a man who’s authorized to be next to the masquerade or something like that. I wouldn’t say it’s like a priest. It’s just like men dancing and chanting. It’s just a patron of that spiritual culture. Somebody who’s like apart of it. But you have to be a man and you have to be old enough. You can’t just be like a teen boy or a woman. And so what she was telling me about this one and all these men were dancing around the masquerade you know like shouting and dancing or whatever. And the masquerade was like, it looked like it was a person under a white sheet. Just walking and dancing along, Doing these weird like movements. And then instantaneously it would fall flat like a sheet. And then continue moving. And then reform. And then fall flat. And this is the thing like this is rural Nigeria like it’s like a rural town in America so just like low tech. They don’t have the technology of special effects to make this construct like inflate and deflate. Exactly they just can’t do that. So, like the fact of the matter is – well I can’t even say fact because I haven’t seen it but it’s something that our parents do not mess around with. It’s like a serious thing. So when she saw this thing it like blew her mind because like oh my god this is real. You know? And like that’s Masquerades.  They’re not all like they’ll be one form and then they’ll lose form the next . Some are just like beast or whatever. But always there’s like a chant or a dance that’s like associated with each masquerade.”

2. This piece was very personal to my friend. He’s spoken several times about how his mom doesn’t joke around with this stuff. He said that his family talks about festivals like these all the time. That’s how he found out about it.

3. I went into his dorm room and asked him to tell me some Nigerian folklore. He got really excited and then told me this one. His eyes got really big and he started talking fast.

4. There’s so much content to digest with this one. First of all, he has the first hand account of his mother that’s really fascinating. Not only does he have a cultural idea that he can take with him everywhere he goes, but he has a first hand account from one of the  most trusted people in his life to believe in. This post give great insight into the Nigerian value and fear of spirits as well. They consider it a great honor to be able

Narrative
Tales /märchen

Korean Cinderella

Description: There’s uh Korean cinderella. There is konju patsi. Which is essentially Korean’s cinderella except with a darker ending. It’s been awhile since I’ve read it but if I remember correctly uh Cinderella kills her evil sisters and the mother and gets them killed in the end. For the most part it’s exactly the same as cinderella. It’s a children’s story so it doesn’t say where she came from. Also, it wasn’t a shoe it was something else. I can’t remember what no cause it’s been awhile since i’ve read it or heard it cause you don’t really hear it after you’re little. I have to look over it to remember the exact details. Yeah so essentially she is turned into a noble lady by the fairy godmother. It’s been like ten years. She goes to this festival as a noble and meets the other noble who in the western version is the prince. Usually not a lot of Korean stories involved the king or prince or whatever. It’s probably because there were a lot more nobles and so the stories were a lot more believable. This is just purely speculation but yeah. It wasn’t a glass slipper. It was… if it was a shoe it was a traditional Korean shoe that you wear with some… well Korean traditional clothes are called Hanbok. Yeah and so it’s probably the shoe which is called Chip Shin. The normal people just wear ones made out of straw but the rich ware ones made out of silk or something like that. So, yeah. I believe she leaves her shoe. The noble searches the entire village for her. She ends up killing her step sisters in revenge for being so cruel to her. But if you think about it the original European one’s pretty dark too so…. Cause in the original one if I remember correctly they cut off the step sister’s toe to make it fit. Or no there’s no fairy godmother there were just a bunch of animals. Yeah… and then oh wait never mind. Cinderella dies (he laughs). Her rival pushes her into a lake and then drowns her and then takes her clothes to make herself look like her. It’s like a relative on her mom’s side. Yeah….”

2. He mentioned that he hadn’t heard this since he was a child. It seems like it’s a story that is generally told orally but is also written up into colorful children’s books as well.

3. I walked into his room and asked him if he could tell me some Korean Folklore. He laughed right before he told me this one. It seems like he had a hard time remembering it since he hadn’t heard it in a while.

4. He mentioned repeatedly that it was different and similar to the western version and even went to the extent of mentioning that the western one was the original. It’s possible that it is, but his comment lends a light into his mindset of Western and Eastern thought. He’s almost viewing Western thought as superior to Eastern. This rendition of Cinderella doesn’t end up turning out with a happy ending. It contains some pessimistic ideas whereas other renditions of the story end with Cinderella marrying the prince, this one seems to contain a much more serious final tone.

It can also be found in recorded literature: Climo, Shirley, and Ruth Heller. The Korean Cinderella. New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993. Print.

general

First Korea

Description: The first king essentially. The first Korean kingdom’s king. Which would eventually as time passes get slit into a lot of different kingdoms which they slowly die off and the kingdom becomes Koreo. But yeah. Technically the first Korean King Dangun Wanggeom would be the Legend. Um The myth associated that he’s the son of a god and he is given the land by his father to rule over and he… crap… it’s kinda weird… but he chooses… now that I’m saying it it sounds really weird. He comes down and finds a bear and a tiger and tells them that if they can live in a cave for i think forty days… or something like that… on only onions and stuff then they’ll make them human. The tiger runs off all bitter eventually. The bear and the tiger try it. The tiger just runs off. And the bear turns into a woman. That prince, technically god’s son, marries the bear and founds the first Korean country with treasures from his dad. A sword a mirror and…. I can’t remember what the last thing was. He came down with a sword a mirror and something else. Yeah. Wait. Yeah. He’s technically the found of the first Korean country essentially. In old Korean times there were a lot of Korean gods. There’s the god of the mountain and the god of the earth so. One of the god’s son. It just says he’s the son of one of the chief gods essentially. There’s not a specific set of gods in tradition. At least traditionally.

2. This piece illustrates the ideas associated with the founding of Korea. This appears to be taught more by word of mouth than by actual school teaching, but it is possible that it would be used in a history class studying the legends of the area.

3. I went into his dorm room and asked him if he had any good Korean folklore for me and this was the first one that he told me. Apparently it is one of particular Renown.

4. This piece takes into account Korea’s belief in the humanity of animals. They, very much like the native americans seemed to believe that humans were not the only ones with souls. What’s fascinating about this particular story is that it highlights that every animal essentially wants to become a human. The bear will do anything to become human. The tiger on the other hand flakes out and doesn’t get this great honor. It also speaks a lot about Koreans view on determination and perseverance.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Korean Wedding

Description: “This is based on what my parents did, cause they did partly western and partly eastern. The ceremony was held the normal way but the proposal was… the ceremony was held the western way… cause how long was it? It was like 1990 or something. So yeah. But the proposal was actually kind of traditional style in the sense that uh. So when you ask the daughter’s hand in marriage you don’t do it. Your friend does. As with most societies Korea was very patriarchal. So the son comes and then the father has to kinda sell his daughter essentially and the dad has to act like he needs to be paid a lot or something like that. And so there’s this back and forth going on between who is essentially the best man and the dad going like I’ll pay you this much and then the dad saying nah, nah. It just goes back and forth. And then.. Oh wait no… how much the… oh wait no… how much the husband’s family will by the daughter for. That was it. My bad. Like the father of the wife would go oh she’s worth this much. And the best man would go nah nah that’s waaaay too much. And then while that’s going on the to be husband is hiding back in the background watching. Well he’s not supposed to see but… you always kind of do that. Apparently that’s what my dad did. He kinda saw from the background. I heard this pretty recently too so I was pretty surprised. People don’t really do that anymore. They’re more western. And then eventually the son shows up with the mount and then they take the wife and they just get married. There’s a ceremony. I guess in Korean weddings they still dress up in traditional clothes and they sit together in like this mini altar kind of things. They just kind of eat and then take photos. But in the past it would be like that the entire time. There’d be celebration depending on how wealthy you are. If you’re rich it’d be pretty big, if you’re a commoner probably not as big. But, eh. The traditional clothing is hanbok. It’s like a dress for the most part. The guy also wears hanbok. It’s just traditional clothes. There’s normal ones and then there’s fancy ones. Although nowadays people only wear the fancy ones. Though, normal clothes make more sense. But it’s actually surprisingly comfortable it’s just a lot of layers. I’ve worn one as a kid before during special holidays. There’s winter ones and summer ones. The summer ones are very thin… like pretty thin. The winter ones are thicker and there are multiple layers.”

2. My friend got this story from listening to his parents proposal story. They experienced this tradition on a first hand account and then told him about the practice as he was growing up.

3. I walked into his dorm room and asked him if he could tell me some Korean folklore. He had so much and was able to dish it out really quickly.

4. There’s a lot of things you can take away from this. It’s easy to tell that these traditions find themselves in a more patriarchal system. In America, it would be considered outrageous if you had to pay for your bride. Still, on the other hand, many other cultures still do this as well. It’s a fairly common practice in other cultures. Still, there are specifics here that make this very Korean. First of all, the fact that you just find a friend to go barter for a wife for you is interesting. This gives insight into Korea’s belief system on trust. They obviously keep their friends close and give them power to influence their lives and their pocketbooks.

[geolocation]