CULTURE OF TRIBALS

– AJEET COUR

If there is something that unites humanity at the deepest level of culture, it is folklore.

Our folklore is the innocent tale of the wonder that life is ! In the whole of the SAARC region, we share our skies, our lands, our rivers and oceans, our flora and fauna. Our folklore reflects the same traditions and histories, the same memories and indigenous knowledge systems. In our folk tales and folk songs, gods come to earth to interact with human beings, birds and animals tell tales of ancient wisdom.

All cultures are rooted in their folklore – in their folk songs, fables, folktales, folk paintings, folk crafts, folk dances, folk theatre, myths, legends, and grandmother’s tales. We, the people of South Asia, are connected at a deeper level through different forms of articulation; through our shared myths, traditions, cosmologies, rituals and folk knowledge systems that together constitute our cultural identity.

SAARC is probably the only region in the world where we celebrate marriages, pregnancies, child-births, and even deaths with songs. We have songs for the changing seasons, for harvests, for monsoons !

Folklore, as part of our Intangible Heritage, is the most potent civilisational link among nations of the SAARC region, extending to even Burma (Myanmar).

The folklore of the SAARC region is the collective consciousness of the people of this region.

If one drew a line from Afghanistan to Bhutan, and another from Kashmir to Sri Lanka and Maldives, one finds that there is no break in communication between any two contiguous points.

Of all the emotional linkages, our Intangible Heritage and FOLKLORE is of most vital importance, because it emanates from our centuries-old historical memories, and goes back to centuries of civilisational evolution of this region.

Besides sharing our clouds and monsoons, our birds and animals, our oceans and rivers, our flora and fauna, we in the SAARC region share long civilisational journeys, horizontally and vertically, on micro and macro levels.

Folklore has multi-dimensional layers of cultural connectivity, historical implications, patterns of mythology and their role in contemporary popular culture in today’s post-modern world.

Folklore and Intangible Heritage represent our ever-green roots, with centuries-old moisture soaked in their entrails, the roots which spread out across the region, and give us our unique cultural ethos.

Our Intangible Heritage includes Folklore and our Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Historical Memories of thousands of years, since the Indus Valley Civilisation, as the landmark of anthropological evidence of one of the most ancient civilizations of the world.

The genesis of all cultures is in the oral tradition which has been responsible for passing on, from generation to generation, the pristine grandeur and haunting fascination of memories, narrated in our Folklore. Every SAARC country’s culture bears the imprint of that oral heritage.

Folklore is a terribly ignored subject, particularly in our SAARC region, where languages are dying, and so are the folklore traditions. It is high time that mad and committed people like me, and intelligent people like you should wake up to the SOS call of our oral traditions of folklore, and try to resurrect and save a vital part of our cultural and civilisational heritage.

This is the culture which does not depend on the elite. It is the culture of the folk: Tribals and Adivasis, and the common masses. It is the culture still living, throbbing, thriving in the mud-huts of villages, in the fields of the farmers, in the forests which are the dwellings of the Adivasis and the Tribals.

Like the one before which FOSWAL organised in December 2007, the first-ever such event in the SAARC region, this Second Folklore Festival also re-orients the entire cultural paradigm by foregrounding the culture of our common people expressed so fully and beautifully through folk tales, songs, myths, legends, proverbs, rituals, dances and plays.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS EVENT EMANATES FROM THE FACT THAT CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE AND RESEARCH AND CULTURAL PROGRAMMES FOCUS ON THE INTELLIGENTSIA AND THE ELITE. THE WHOLE CULTURAL THRUST IGNORES THE VOICE OF THE MASSES, WHICH CAN BE HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD THROUGH ORAL TRADITIONS OF FOLKLORE AND FOLK SONGS WHICH ARE LYING AT THE ROOT OF HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL MEMORIES OF OUR SAARC NATIONS.

Through cultural awareness, and rekindling the spirit of a shared cultural and civilisational history, which is rich and unique in its vastness and depth, crystallized over thousands of years, a n