How about a parasitic twist to a Khasi folktale from India’s scenic northeast hills’ An Indian researcher has done just that and bagged the award at the maiden International Parasite Film Festival.

Damanbha Lyngdoh from Meghalaya, who is pursuing a PhD on molecular taxonomy of liver fluke worm (Fasciola species), a parasite that inhabits the liver of animals and even humans, won at the festival at the 12th European Multicolloquium of Parasitology that was held in July in Finland.

In his nearly 10-minute animated interpretation of the popular folk tale “The death of Lapalang the Stag”, Lyngdoh replaced key elements of the tale to depict the lifecycle of the liver fluke and showed how the parasite is important in restoring balance in nature.

In the story, a young archer of a clan is chosen to kill the stag after it comes from the plains to the Khasi hills (unheeding his mother’s warnings) and uproots vegetation.

“To complete its life cycle, the parasite needs a snail and Mithun bull. I replaced the stage with the Mithun bull and replaced the young archer of a clan who kills the stag with a rusted arrow, with the parasite and its larvae which eventually kills the bull in the life cycle of the liver fluke,” Lyngdoh, who is is pursuing his doctorate from the parasitology laboratory at the department of zoology, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, told IANS from Shillong.

“The story has a moral. Pride comes before fall, everybody must heed and listen to the advice of the elders and that small and minute organisms such as parasites (Fasciola gigantica) viewed for their negative aspects can become heroes too by maintaining a balance in nature. All things are not bad,” added Lyngdoh, also an assistant professor in St. Anthony’s College, Shillong.

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