In response to Indispire Edition #163 of Indiblogger
Which is the first book I read all by myself?
Well, frankly speaking I do not remember. But, I can guess with a fair degree of accuracy about some of the books and magazines which were part of my reading in my early childhood.
The Magazine Chandamama being one of those. Strictly speaking, it may not fall under the category of books. But the magazine was so much part of my regular childhood reading, I would love to assign it the status of my first love with reading material outside the school curriculum.
The magazine was published in a number of Indian languages and English. I used to read the Oriya version which was titled ‘Janhamamu’.
Each issue contained a mixture of stand alone stories, serialized stories bases on mythology, classic literature, new stories, contests and knowledge tidbits suitable for schoolchildren. Every article had accompanying colourful illustrations to create visual interest. The stories also had a moral or a practical lesson to teach.
The magazine not only delivered the stories and messages of mythologies and classical literature in an interesting and suitable way to the children, but also kindled interest for further reading. One of the serialised popular features of the magazine was the stories of Vikram and Vetal. Subsequently, when I came across the original book, I could not resist myself reading it. Of course the magazine authors took the liberty to create their own stories in line with the originals.
At present the magazine is not in circulation, either in print of e-format. However, it survived long enough so that I could buy the magazines for my own children. Only difference being while my children had many options with regard to children’s periodicals, I had very few. Of course many local children’s magazines were available. But, nothing to beat Chandamama.
Another regular feature of the magazine was the caption contest. There were two unrelated photos, and one had to find a suitable caption linking both the photos. I tried my luck on a number of issues, even though I could never make it to the winning stage.
It is sad to know that the magazine started by B Naggi Reddy (also a famous film producer) and Chakrapani in 1947 is no more in publication. It reached its peak in the 1970s and the 1980s, being published in thirteen languages with a circulation of 2 lakhs.
The best thing about Chandamama was that most of the stories were desi, unlike today’s periodicals for children. Of course some times it contained abridged and illustrated versions of many western classics. Maybe, that is how I got interested in English classic literature too.
For those who would like to relive the days of Chandmama or have a taste of the magazine, here is link for the archives: