Jumbaya’s approach to Ramayana - The Journey of Sita and Rama

Creating something to inspire the love for reading in kids, while exploring the depths of Ramayana's profound teachings.

Learning

We at Jumbaya have spent over 6 months researching on Ramayana and how to tell this timeless epic to kids, maintaining the original essence of the text while making it engaging for children. 

Since epics are often oral in origin, they have a particular way of telling their stories. Each teller has the privilege, perhaps even the duty, to tell the tale in her/his own way, dwelling on well-loved parts, elucidating morality and ethics, adding comic relief.

Our research included a multi pronged approach where we deduced and studied the many considerations to be made in creating such a retelling.

1. Understanding the Target Audience:

Although our target audience is kids aged 6-14 years, we are sure that a lot of grown ups too will enjoy this retelling of Ramayana.

Some key considerations for this age group are:

  1. Simplifying the narrative for better comprehension. No two 8 year olds are the same. It is imperative that the child understands whatever is being communicated at the same time ensuring that the essence of the story, its lessons and values are imparted without any distortions.
  2. Breaking the narrative into smaller parts to keep the attention of children intact. This is an approach that we consider with many of our stories to discourage the habit of bingeing in kids. Each part is approximately 8-10 mins long.  
  3. Creating high quality illustrations, thoughtful and engaging animation, music and voice over that perfectly conveys the emotions in the scenes. A good combination of this results in something kids thoroughly enjoy. 

Building a visual library based on research

2. Research and Consultations:

No matter how many versions of Ramayana we read, there’s always more out there. Having said that, below are some critically acclaimed versions of Ramanaya we researched through to create our retelling of this epic. 

We did not want to carry out an isolated research therefore we constantly invited third person perspectives by consulting multiple scholars and experts on the subject. We sought their help in not only reviewing our drafts but also getting insights into cultural nuances, traditions and sensitivities of those times. We wanted to ensure the accuracy and authenticity in our retelling. 

Our list of experts include:

  • Mallika Ravikumar, Master’s degree in Indian Culture and Archaeology, a well-known author and also the writer of our Ramayana series
  • Shilpa Das, Principal Faculty, Interdisciplinary Design Studies, National Institute of Design

Our list of reference books and literature include:

  • Valmiki’s Ramayana (Original version composed in sanskrit)
  • Valmiki’s Ramayana Translated by Arshia Sattar
  • Ramayana for Children by Arshia Sattar
  • Many Ramayanas & Many Lessons by Anand Neelkanthan
  • The Illustrated Ramayana published by DK Books
  • The Valmiki Ramayana translated by Bibek Debroy 
  • The Girl Who Chose by Devdutt Pattanaik
  • Valmiki’s Ramayana by Amar Chitra Katha
  • Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation by A.K. Ramanujan

Not to forget the highly acclaimed visual adaptations:

  • Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana (1987)
  • Animated movie- Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)

3. Focus on Values and Life Lessons:

Ramayana is rich in moral and ethical teachings. It is important to highlight these values and virtues clearly. We have worked hard to bring to children important trivia and values in nearly each part of the series. These are delivered independently through the Jumbaya mascot as sutradhar (narrator) either at the beginning or at the end of the episode. 

4. Adapting Language and Tone:

Ramayana is a long surviving epic, and with each retelling, a shift in language can be observed. We therefore decided to use age-appropriate language and a storytelling tone that resonates with young readers. Meticulous details are built-in seamlessly by incorporating descriptive language, dialogue, and interactive elements wherever appropriate.

5. Character Development:

Ramayana has many diverse and well-rounded characters. Each has a story of its own. Our work was to highlight all their qualities and tell their stories independently through their character sketches. For example, Lord Rama's righteousness, Sita's courage, Hanuman's loyalty, and Ravana’s wisdom, which is overshadowed by his ego. In our process we worked towards demonstrating character growth and transformation, allowing children to learn from the characters' journeys. Different illustration styles were tested while also keeping in mind their body language, physique, body hair, hair styles, clothes, jewellery, and skin colours amongst many other things.

Character explorations

6. Artistic Presentation:

Our team of talented art directors, illustrators, animators, designers and audio professionals worked tirelessly to create a captivating and culturally sensitive work of art that complements the narrative. 

Choices were thoughtfully made to compliment the mood of the story, every detail down to the colours, the recitation of shlokas within the story as well as every brushstroke to define a character or scene was taken with a lot of care so as to ensure that nothing is over-stimulating or jarring for young readers.

7. Feedback:

Our process immensely depended on the feedback we got from parents, educators, and cultural advisors. We found that the best way forward is to incorporate constructive suggestions to refine and improve the narrative, ensuring that the final version is respectful, inclusive, and engaging for children.

Our retelling of Ramayana releases on 16 September, 2023, only on the Jumbaya App!
Until then, download the app and browse through our diverse collection of amazing storybooks for children! :D
Available on
iOS and Android.

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