In Bon Bibi's Forest
Sandhya Rao
Proiti Roy
age group: 
7+ yrs
Number of pages: 
tigers Sunderbans folktales conservation
picture book, fiction

Bon Bibi--popularly known as Bandevi, Bandurga or Byaghro Devi, is worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims alike, and is set in the dense forests of the Sunderbans, where myths and legends abound. As, sometimes tigers kill the villagers and their livestock, the village folk before entering the forest--for firewood, to fish, or to find honey, pray to Bon Bibi, the guardian of the mangroves, for their safety.

Sandhya Rao has skillfully integrated multiple tales into one cohesive story—the birth of Bon Bibi, the scary Dokkhin Rai and the little Dukhe. Bon Bibi was born in a Muslim familily and travels to Mecca and Medina with her twin brother to bring back the precious earth to mix into the fertile soil of the Sunderbans. She then becomes the protector of the forest. The hushed, tranquil and mystifying forests are however, disturbed by the man-eating, half tiger and half human—Dokkhin Rai. But Bon Bibi realizes that Dokkhin is also protecting himself from the plundering and hunting humans. She bestows the mammoth task of ensuring that peace and balance is maintained in the forest on little Dukhe.

The vivid illustration support the pace and multiplicity of the story. The fiery image of the Dokkhin Rai in colour and black and white illustrations, symbolize the big and bold Bengal tigers as the formidable ruler of the deep dark forests.

Both the narrative and illustrations bind the little reader in its grip and leave them with many messages to ponder over and also perhaps inspire them to follow in the footstep of little Dukhe.


Reviewed by Ruhi Gurjar