In the Momotaro folktale, a baby boy is 'born' to an elderly couple from a giant momo (peach) that came floating down a stream. The boy was raised as the couple's taro (1st born son). He grew into a youth who epitomized valour and, one day, he set out to Onigashima (the isle of ogres) to do battle with the Oni who had been terrorizing his village. On the way Momotaro recruited a dog, a monkey and a pheasant, who agreed to help him in exchange for the millet dumplings he had packed for the journey. The Oni were defeated and Momotaro and his friends returned to the village to share the spoils of their campaign. Momotaro (the Peach Boy) is celebrated throughout Japan on 5th May during Tango no Sekku or 'Boys Festival' (now renamed Kodomo no Hi or Children's Day). 

 

For the performance at Courtyard Hiroo Gallery, I translated two verses from a children song about Momotaro's adventure into Tamil. I sang these verses as I made an offering of a mangai pachadi dango (mango pickle dumpling) to an antique Momataro Doll made by the legendary the Kyugetsu Company. I told Momotaro's story and unpacked the notions of valour, nation, hero and identity in terms of the contemporary global scenario.

Momotaro-san, Momotaro-san

Edupil thinai maah kollukatai

Ennaku ondru thara matiah

Oom naan tharuven, Oom naan tharuven,

Unaku kollukatai naan tharuven

Asurane aliker pooraduvoom

Momotarō-san, Momotarō-san

Okoshi ni tsuketa kibidango

Hitotsu watashi ni kudasai na?

Yarimashō, yarimashō

Kore kara oni no seibatsu ni

Tsuite kuru nara agemashō

太郎さん、桃太郎さん

お腰につけたきびだんご

一つ私に下さいな!

やりませうしょう、やりませうしょう

これから鬼の征伐に

ついてくるならあげましょう

Momotarō, Momotarō

Those millet dumplings on your waist

Won't you give me one?

I'll give you one, I'll give you one

If you'll come with me on a quest to conquer the oni 

I'll give you one

The translation into Tamil was done from an English version of the song with the help of my mother, S D Rajah. The Japanese original, the transliteration and the English translation are from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momotar%C5%8D


 

© 2018 Niranjan Rajah

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