Where Gods Dwell
Folktales of India
An introduction to the colourful and exuberant folk literature from the hills of Kumaon and Garhwal In the iridescent snows of the Central Himalayas known as Devbhoomi, the land of the gods, there is a story for every mountain, river and tree. Kusum Budhwar introduces us to Kumaon and Garhwal’s rich and rarely translated folk literature by retelling the colourful and exuberant stories of the region. Whimsical and imaginative, these are tales of high adventure, luminous love and romance, benevolent pastoral gods, local heroes, brave medieval warriors, sacred sites and historical anecdotes, all of which are equally popular in these parts but little known outside. Arranged in sections, each focusing on a particular theme, the book opens with Nanda Devi, the patron goddess of the region, believed to be the daughter of the Himalayas. In the sections that follow we become intimately acquainted with the enchanting adventure sagas of the Ramola clan, the Ramola Gathas; the romantic ballads ‘Malushahi’ and ‘Haru Heet’; the tale of Chyongompa, the demon bird; and the simple stories, imbued with faith, of local gods and goddesses like Golu Dev and Devmangala, among others. Where Gods Dwell not only allows us to savour the stories of the hills, resonating with the cheerful cadences of mountain streams and the dark silence of the forests, but also offers us a rare glimpse of the culture, life and society of the people of the region whose lives are shaped by the rugged terrain they inhabit and who revere the mountains on which they make their home.