A Pumpkin Story from Bhutan

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Karl the Pumpkin

Pumpkins are not just orange! As we see here in this picture of Karl the giant Colorado pumpkin, grown by Gary Grande, pumpkins can look more white than orange. In Bhutan they tend to be green.

In time for Halloween comes a book about a fascinating folktale from the Asian country of Bhutan. The Story of a Pumpkin will certainly be a unique addition to your library as it is written not only in English but in Nepali.

The story is related by Hari Tiwari, a Bhutanese woman now living in New Hampshire. She is one of 130,000 people from Bhutan who were exiled from their homes and farms between 1989 and 1995 by Bhutan because they were part of a minority culture that spoke Nepali. Nearly half of these refugees have settled in the United States. The creators of this book are all residents of New Hampshire, including the illustrator Dal Rai and the designer Susan Gaylord.

The green pumpkin, illustration by Dal Rai.The green pumpkin, illustration by Dal Rai.Just reading the story is said to bring the reader a great reward, says Ambika Sharma, now residing in Concord, N.H. “We end the story by telling the listener, you will receive a golden garland. In our culture, gold is most valued. By offering a golden garland, we honor listeners who have gained knowledge of our culture and the history of our people.”

I won’t spoil the story by giving away the conclusion of the book, but I can tell you it is about a pumpkin who marries a princess. Not very likely, you might say, until the pumpkin bursts open to reveal a handsome young man. It is reminiscent of the Western folk tale of a frog being kissed by a princess, who is thereby transformed into a handsome man.

A tale of love and jealousy, The Story of a Pumpkin is a book that will appeal to adults and children alike.

The Story of a Pumpkin (24 pages) is $16.95 and is published by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Visit their website: www.nhhc.org

It is being sold by the University Press of New England. website: upne.com

Photo of Karl the pumpkin taken in Denver in October 2013. Photo copyright C. Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist currently affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute. He did his PhD work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 12 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honour by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1990.

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