December 2009


Table of Contents

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Give to NFSC

You can donate online to strengthen the National Folklore Support Centre.

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Events Calendar

December 9

Contemperory World Cinema (CWC) along with NFSC will screen the film ‘Vincere‘ (Marco Bellocchio con Filippo Timi/Italy/2009/120 mins), 6 p.m.

December 10

CWC along with NFSC will screen the film ‘Nana‘, based on the novel Nana
by Emile Zola,
(Dan Wolman/France/1982/120 mins), 6 p.m.

December 20-25

For all you handicrafts lovers out there NFSC is organising an Exhibition-cum-Sale of fascinating Nepali Handicrafts.
The venue is the ICSA Programme Centre at 107, Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai.
Bang on time for festival shopping, so get ready to splurge!

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NFSC Portal for Journals

The current issue of Indian Folklife on Mizo Folklore guest-edited by Margaret Ch. Zama is now available on the Journal Portal and at Wiki.

Indian Folklore Research Journal

Full archives of the Indian Folklore Research Journal are available on the portal.

The latest issue of Panuval has also been uploaded at our journal portal and can be viewed online.

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There is much jubilation going on at NFSC. And the cause for all this merry making is not just because of the approaching festive season. Our colleague Arun Bose, Program Officer (Technical) has won the first prize in the competition One Minute to Save the World ahead of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Arun’s one minute video is deeply influenced by the extensive fieldwork he did in the Kalahandi and Naupada districts of Orissa where we have an ongoing Community Archive Project supported by the Ford Foundation.
As a part of the documentation process Arun has also made a documentary for NFSC titled Not a Drop of Water. Do make it a point to watch the films.

NFSC is pleased to announce that we have entered into a web collaboration with World Oral Literature Project. By providing small grants to local communities and researchers, the World Oral Literature Project, is helping to document and make accessible endangered oral literatures before they disappear without record. They have a mammoth and exciting event planned for December – they are holding their first workshop, which they hope would be a successful conclusion to their project’s first year. Readers of this e-newsletter are requested to visit the site to discover what it has on offer.

NFSC’s three new publications are now available for purchase online at the Scholars without Borders‘ website.

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Volunteer at NFSC

We invite volunteers who can contribute online or at the Centre. Online volunteers can help with our website and wiki as contributors or editors. Volunteering at the Centre would involve helping organise programmes or workshops in colleges, schools or corporate houses. Those interested in volunteering can register online here or send in profile, bio-data, letter of interest, areas of work and experience and commitment of time to the address provided below.

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Looking Ahead

Dear Friends,

A very warm season’s greetings from the National Folklore Support Centre!

As the year draws to an end, we at the NFSC are eagerly looking forward to the new year.

The month of December is full of exciting events. The Bi-Decennial Celebrations of Folklore Association of South Indian Languages and an International Conference on Folklore will be held on December 18, 19 and 20, 2009 at the Dravidian University in Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh. Our Director M.D. Muthukumaraswamy will lead a panel and present a paper on Folklore and Development with a focus on NFSC’s Digital Community Archives. The panel includes presentations from our collaborators Kikkeri Narayanan, Bhakthavatsala Bharathi, Vinod Nambiar and Mahendra Kumar Mishra. NFSC program staff intend to present the latest of our documentaries that have emerged out of our research projects and community archives.

On New Year’s Eve we will be hosting a group of students and professors from the Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee, US, accompanied by Amy Allocco, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Elon University. We plan to organize a lecture, present a video documentary and a demonstration of Therukoothu (Mahabharata folk theatre) by the artists.

Focus on Ashakulam (Narikuravar/Vagri) Community Archive

Nari Kuravar persons singing and dancing at Annamalaipuram settlement

The past year has been a very eventful one for the Ashakulam (Narikuravar/Vagri) Community Archive. NFSC organised events in which people not only got to know more about the Vagri Community, but also learnt from them.

Take for instance, Professor Peter Claus, who came to teach documenting children’s games in February 2009, and yet feels that he has learnt so much from the Vagri children themselves. And so it was with US research student Padini Nirmal, who spent two weeks in June at Ashakulam studying the Vagris. In July, NFSC had taken 30 participants for a workshop on “Higher Education of Inclusion, Collaboration and Community Engagement” to Ashakulam to educate them on the Vagri Community.

The Dancing Archive

But if you thought the year was all about research and no fun for the Vagris and NFSC alike, think again. At NFSC, we strongly believe that all work and no play can make for a very dull atmosphere indeed! At an NFSC-style rock show, US-based world gypsy music practitioner Oliver Rajamani, enthralled the crowd with his crooning in the month of April. The kids, especially, thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were sorely disappointed when the World Gypsy Music Concert ended. Check out more pictures and videos of this momentous event at our Wiki.

Our child-focused civic engagements such as these saw the kids having a rocking time at the Children’s day function organized by NFSC on 13 November, 2009. The event was part of series of children’s theater workshops conducted by our colleague Manivannan. The little-ones and the not so little-ones competed with each other and won prizes in various events. Research Assistant Manivannan was amazed and touched to see the unbridled enthusiasm of the kids.

Nari Kurava women selling beads in Old Bus stand at Villupuram

For enhancing the community’s livelihood opportunities NFSC invited Nirmala Shridhar of Artserv and Ilangovan, in April. They made a presentation to the community about ways to effectively market their bead ornaments.

As part of capacity building, NFSC has also been training children and young adults, (age group 14-25), in the usage of video cameras, still digital cameras, computers and internet. Younger children are trained in theatre.

In addition to all this NFSC has been continuing its core activity of documenting and building the community’s cultural resources. Just last month we published a pictorial document Vagri Material Culture — a resource book for the Vagri Community. Our Vagri Associates are going around to various Vagri settlements in Tamil Nadu to distribute this publication amongst the Vagri Community. We are gearing up for a colourful release function of the book in a community gathering during our next board meeting. More about it later!

Apart from this we have also produced a documentary, a slideshow on children’s games, more than 170 DVDs and over 8,000 pictures.

As the year-end approaches, fieldworkers Lavanya and Sindhu, feel their year-long interaction with the Vagri Community has proved to be an eye-opener for them. They feel, “We still have a lot to learn about the community and from them too.” The duo, aided by their Vagri associates Raja and Manickam, have collected more than 1,000 Vagriboli words as part of preparing a dictionary for the language. “This is just the beginning,” say the enthusiastic brothers, Raja and Manickam, “we still have a long way to go.” This is a time consuming process since the Vagris do not have a script of their own and have adapted to the Tamil script. Putting into paper a glossary of Vagriboli words will prove to be great resource for the community.

Detailed field reports of all the Vagri-related activities can be found at our Wiki. For the next year too, we have in place a lot of exciting events and workshops for our various Community Archives.

From our Journal Portal

As we mentioned in our November Newsletter, NFSC Books and Monographs is now functional at our Journal Portal. Currently there is no existing software to help authors and scholars publish their books and monographs on-line. In keeping with our tradition for innovation, we have customised the open journal system to do the same. You can now view Simon Charsley’s Madiga & Dalit: Exploring the Heritage at the portal. We are proud to extend this facility to scholars and authors worldwide dealing with folklore. Do send in your proposals to

And with that we sign off for this year. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

- Subhashini Sen

Programme Officer (Publications and Communication) NFSC

National Folklore Support Centre (NFSC) is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, registered in Chennai, dedicated to the promotion of Indian folklore research, education, training, networking, and publications. The aim of the Centre is to integrate scholarship with activism, aesthetic appreciation with community development, comparative folklore studies with cultural diversities and identities, dissemination of information with multi-disciplinary dialogues, folklore fieldwork with developmental issues and folklore advocacy with public programming events. Folklore is a tradition based on any expressive behaviour that brings a group together, creates a convention and commits it to cultural memory. NFSC aims to achieve its goals through cooperative and experimental activities at various levels. NFSC is supported by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Tata Education Trust.

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