February 2010


Table of Contents:

Board Meeting at our Ashakulam Digital Community Archive

From our Seraikela Digital Community Archive

From our Jenukuruba Community Archive


Encyclopaedia Indica

Give to NFSC:

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

Events Calendar:

February 16

NFSC presents the film ‘Agavizhi’, directed by PNS Pandian at 6.00p.m.

February 24

Contemporary World Cinema (CWC) along with NFSC will screen the film ‘I Served the King of England’ Jirim Enzel/Czech/2008/Col/120 mins), 6p.m.

February 25

CWC along with NFSC will screen the film‘Inugami’ (Masato Marada/Japan/2001/Col/105 mins), 6p.m.

NFSC Portal for Journals:

The 35th issue of Indian Folklife on Tripura Folklore guest-edited by Saroj Chaudhuri will soon be available on the Journal Portal and at Wiki.

The 9th issue of Indian Folklore Research Journal is out and will soon be uploaded on our Journal Portal. Full archives of the Indian Folklore Research Journal are available on the Journal portal.

Encyclopaedia Indica:

The following is a Gond painting of an elephant from our Madhya Pradesh Digital Community Archive.

To know more about this mighty beast you can visit our Encyclopaedia Indica’s ‘Elephant and its Folklore’ by Lalitha Ramadurai.

You too can contribute to the Encyclopaedia Indica. Interested people may please contact




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,

Hope all of you had a great start to the new year. At the National Folklore Support Centre, we were busy as bees. As usual we had a fully packed month, with back to back activities.

But before we go into all that you must have noticed our new look. We are still busy patting each others’ backs, but we heartily welcome any help in assisting us in our self congratulatory zeal!! Hope you all like the new look.

Board Meeting at the Ashakulam Digital Archive:

We had our board meeting on the 9th and 10th of January. Our board of trustees were taken to our Ashakulam digital community archive by our director MD Muthukumaraswamy to evaluate the work done by NFSC. The trustees also looked at the documentation work being done in our archives.

Later in the evening, the trustees and NFSC staff attended a huge cultural and academic community gathering held in a wedding-hall in Ashakulam. In a first of its kind event held for the community, close to 400 Narikurava community members from all over Tamil Nadu participated in the meeting. Close to 80 NGOs working with the Narikuravar Community in Tamil Nadu were also invited. All this was a direct result of our field staff who visited 38 Narikuruvar settlements, with our new publication ‘Vagri Material Culture,’ in the districts of Cuddalore, Villupuram, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. This ensured the establishment of networks between the different settlements which were strengthened because of the community gathering at Villupuram.

The evening was kicked off by NFSC Director MD Muthukumaraswamy who gave a brief introduction to the work being done by NFSC.

Kalyani Rajaraman, Project Director of Hand-in-Hand in Villupuram gave an audio visual presentation on ‘Educational Issues’ affecting the Narikurava Community. She presented various case studies to highlight the problems faced by the organisation to provide education to the Narikurava children.

This was followed by a presentation of ‘Health Issues’ conducted by Purushothaman, the Director of Kalaiselvi Karunalaya Social Welfare Society. A documentary on child rag pickers from the Narikurava community was screened.

Artserv, an NGO based in Chennai made a presentation on bead making and ways to enhance and market this skill. Nirmala Sridhar, who had held a workshop for the Narikurava community last year, talked about the various types of beads available in the market, popular jewellery designs, marketing tips and also about ways to network. Community members participated in the discussions and voiced their views.

This was followed by an interesting lecture on ‘Building a Vagri Lexicon and writing a descriptive grammar based on oral resources’ by G. Srinivasa Varma. He is a retired professor of Linguistics, Annamalai University, Chidambaram. NFSC is now planning to come up with a dictionary for Vagri boli in collaboration with Prof Varma. This will be follow-up to ‘Vagri Material Culture‘ published last year. The dictionary, we hope, will be another positive step towards paving a way for integrating the Narikurava community with mainstream communities.

The most vivacious participants of the entire evenings show were undoubtedly the Narikurava children. Not only did they participate in the meeting with unabashed joie de vivre, they also spoke about what they wanted to be when they grow up. The following is a picture of Aswini, who stood first in class 10 at the Mylam Government Higher Secondary School.

The crowning glory of the evening was the cultural programme presented by the children of the Narikurava community. A fitting end to an eventful day.

From our Seraikela Archive:

Following the return of our fieldworkers from Seraikela, plans are afoot to make several presentations on Slideshare, on the various aspects of Seraikela Chhau. They have documented the intricate footwork involved in Chhau. They have painstakingly captured the time-consuming process involved in the making of the masks. In addition they have studied the different types of masks used by Seraikela Chhau which are it its distinctive and unique feature.

With the tremendous documentation that has been done in our Seraikela Archive we will also be making short video documentaries on the two key aspects Chhau: Mask making and footwork. We will also be making a short film on the role of women in Chhau. A film based on the interviews with a Chhau Guru is also on the anvil.

From our Jenukuruba Archive:

The book release function of NFSC publication ‘Playing with the Children of the Forest‘ by Ksheerasagar happened on the January 28 at Rangayana Sriranga, in Mysore. Our collaborator Kikkeri Narayan was also present at the function. The publication deals with the effect that displacement has had on the Jenukurubar Children.

We are also planning a dictionary on the Jenukuruba language as part of using our digital community archives for helping them learn in their own language. The dictionary will use descriptive grammar, oral poetry, and folktales to illustrating the usage of words in Jenukurubar language, which has no script.

Our colleagues Dhivya, Manivannan and Vibooshi will be going on fieldwork to H.D. Deve Kote from February 2nd to February 8th. During this field visit they will be be documenting the medicinal plants around our archive. They will also be reviewing the documentation done so far in the the Jenukuruba archive. Apart from this, Prof Peter Claus will be taking students from Dakshinachitra to our Jenukuruba archive from February 20-25. The students of the Arts Management course will also be guided by Prof Kikkeri Narayan, our collaborator. The theme of this five-day workshop is ‘Visualising Ksheerasagar’s ‘Playing with the Children of the Forest’. This book as you all would remember is one of NFSC’s recent publications.

NFSC News:

Our Director MD Muthukumaraswamy will be attending a workshop on ‘Transcultural Bodies-Transboundary Biographies: Thinking Borderscapes in Asia and Europe’. The event will be held at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi between February 21-24. The event is being held in collaboration with the University of Zurich and the University of Heidelberg.

Our colleagues Aakaash Nair and Shantini Sarah, Vani Venugopal, Aruvi and Vinodh Prem Das will be going to Guwahati from February 4-8 to attend a workshop on digital archiving, The workshop is being conducted by DOkumentation BEdrother Sparchen (documentation of endangered languages, DOBES). They will be given a hands-on experience working with Documentation, Transcription and Analysis software like PRAAT, ELAN and TOOLBOX and archiving using software such as LAMUS. NFSC will also be particpating in the ‘International Conference on Children’s Librarie’s Building a Book Culture being held in Delhi from 4-6 February. The event will be held at the India International Centre and is Organised by the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) and the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). The aim of the conference is to discuss the potential and scope of libraries in strengthening the book culture. AWIC was founded by the late K. Shankar Pillai in 1981. It is a voluntary organisation dedicated to the development and promotion of creative literature for children.

Encyclopaedia Indica:

Our Director MD Muthukumaraswamy’s NFSC Lore has gotten off to a smashing start. We started with ?Why the Woodpecker’s Head is Red?. This was followed by ‘Why the Raven’s Feathers are Black’. You can also find out ‘Why the Magpie’s Nest is not Well Built’. This week’s story is ‘The Story of the First Butterflies’. NFSC Lore can be accessed by all folklorists and folktale lovers.

On that cheery note we wish you goodbye. We will be back with more news from our end next month.

- Subhashini Sen

Programme Officer (Publications and Communication) NFSC

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