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  • Writer's pictureSpeak Your Roots

Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends (Folktales of India) by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

The back cover of Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends (Folktales of India) reads thus:

"It is believed that the only way the Khasi people could learn of God’s word was by passing on the stories of their forefathers. The alphabet of the great Khasi tribe of North-East India was born as late as in 1842, when Thomas Jones, a Welsh Presbyterian missionary, introduced the Roman script to form the essentials of the Khasi written word. But long before the white man came, the Khasis knew agriculture. trade, commerce and industry. And they were also masters of story-telling.

Theirs was a society of great wisdom and civilized conduct at a time when brute force held sway. For theirs was a culture that worshipped God through respect for both man and nature. Perhaps that is why Khasi stories always begin with ‘When man and beasts and stones and trees spoke as one...'

How did the great story-telling tradition of the Khasis survive so long without a script? Putting together myths and legends peopled by deities and poor folk, speaking trees and talking tigers, the sun and the moon and everything below—bilingual poet and writer Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih describes how fables of love and jealousy, hate and forgiveness, evil and redemption inform the philosophy, moral principles and daily activities of his community even today."

Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends (Folktales of India) written by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih (2007) is an important and significant book which documents Khasi folktales in English. With the publication of this book, the Khasi oral tradition can now reach a larger audience in India and all over the world.
Published by: Penguin Books India
Cover painting: @benedictskhemlang
Illustrations: Pankaj Thapa
👉The book is available online on


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