January 2010


Table of Contents

From the Jharkhand Digital Community Archive

From the Ashakulam Community Archive

From the Jenukuruba Community Archive

Workshop in Goa

Board Meeting

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Give to NFSC

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

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Events Calendar

January 19

Contemperory World Cinema (CWC) along with NFSC will screen the film “Fish Child” ? (Luciapuenzo/Argentina/col/2008/95 mins) 6 p.m.

January 20

CWC along with NFSC will screen the film “Songs of the Sparrow” (Majid Majidi/Iran/col/2008/90 mins) 6 p.m.

January 21

Lecture on Ethnomusicology and the Study of India’s “Great” and “Little” Traditions by Aaron Paige, 6 p.m

January 28

Douglas KnightLecture on Sampradaya: The Mechanisms of Change presented jointly by Douglas Knight, Aniruddha Knight and Usha Shivashankar, 6 p.m.

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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 expected to be out any time now. Full archives of the Indian Folklore Research Journal are available on the portal.

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

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An announcement regarding the review of our three new publications Vagri Material Culture by Bhakthavatsala Bharathi, Ksheerasagar’s Playing with the Children of the Forest and Learning and Embodying Caste, Class and Gender – Patterns of Childhood in Rural Tamil Nadu by Gabriele Alex have been put up for review at our Journal Portal. Scholars interested in reviewing these books may please contact muthu@indianfolklore.org or info@indianfolklore.org.

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Encyclopaedia Indica

There is good news for die-hard folklore enthusiasts!! Our Director MD Muthukumaraswamy has started a new blog at our Encyclopaedia Indica site. To be called NFSC Lore, he will be posting a new folk tale every week. Drawing from his enormous collection of folklore he will be retelling them so as to appeal to Generation Next and yet retain the old world charm and feeling associated with folk tales. Those of you interested in subscribing to this interesting and first of its kind attempt could e-mail us at info@indianfolklore.org Watch this space for further updates.

Kolkata’s Botanical Garden is home to the world’s largest banyan tree, the Great Banyan. This “forest” (above) is all one tree, approximately 250 years old!! Chennai’s Theosophical Society has the second largest Banyan Tree in the world. Sample a few more pictures from the Encyclopaedia Indica website. You can even contribute if you want. Contact muthu@indianfolklore.org or info@indianfolklore.org for more information.

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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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Ring out the Old and Ring in the New

Dear Friends,

A very happy new year from the National Folklore Support Centre!

But before we go into that, let us pause to take a brief look back at the last couple of month’s events.

On New Year’s Eve Amy Allocco, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University arrived at NFSC with a group of 15 students from Maryville College, Maryville Tennessee, US to attend a lecture. Our Director MD Muthukumaraswamy gave a lecture on “Transformation of Spaces in Bharatakoothu.” This was followed by an interactive session. The day ended with a performance of Therukoothu (Mahabharata folk theatre) by folk artists. The demonstration of this age-old folk art was thoroughly enjoyed by the visitors and NFSC staff alike. The energy filled performance proved to be a fitting end to what was an action packed year for us.

Bala Vidya Mandir, a school in Chennai, held their annual Projects Day on December 19 amidst much fanfare. Since the theme for this year was “Folklore and Folk Arts of India,” they invited NFSC. As Program Officer for NFSC I had gone to preside over the event. It was a truly revealing experience. Children from class II onwards had such an amazing knowledge of folk arts. Children from some classes even performed folk dances from the north-east India, south India etc. Their unbridled enthusiasm was truly a joy to behold.

December was filled with activities but the one event we were all really looking forward to unfortunately got postponed indefinitely. The Bi-Decennial Celebrations of the Folklore Association of South Indian Languages and the International Conference on Folklore scheduled for December 18, 19, and 20 had to be postponed due to the political unrest in Andhra Pradesh. The new dates should hopefully be announced soon and we will keep you updated.

The NFSC office in Chennai resembles an empty nest now. But before you jump to the wrong conclusions, let me tell you that it is just that our fieldworkers have given in to their wanderlust!! Some have either just returned or are all packed up to leave.

Breaking news from our Jharkhand Digital Community Archive:

Shiv ParvatiOur colleagues Aruvi and Shantini Sarah, are just back from a two-week intensive field work at Digital Community Archive in Jharkhand. We also have a new intern Jeet Narayan Sinha a final year engineering student from SRM University, Chennai, who is assisting Aruvi and Shantini in their research. Despite his technical background he is deeply interested in Chhau and he is also being trained by the NFSC in documenting and archiving.

The interviews with various gurus like Makar Dhwaj Darodha, Gouri Shankar Mahrana (Panu Ustad), Guru Krishna Chandra revealed the origins of the dance form and its evolutioBanyan Treen. Every guru is from a specific akhara (different places of practice with different styles). They traced the journey of the art form found among rebel group from Kalinga (Orissa), called Parikhanda (Shield and Sword,a martial art form). It later got refined into a vibrating dance form after the intervention of Kumar Bijoy Pratap Singh Deo, a member of the Royal family, who is the modern architect of Chhau.

They also did extensive documentation of the footwork demonstrated by our collaborator Guru Tapan Kumar Pattanayak and Shushant Kumar Acharya. They elaborated that Chhau has 36 upalayas,The Mask10 chaalis,10 khels, topkas and bhangimas. The upalayas have 18 male and 18 female footworks which are similar to those one uses while performing daily household activities. Chaali is a step which imitates a style of walk or gait. Topkas signify any kind of jumps. Basically these three deal with the footwork involved in Chhau.

Khels are the martial games showcasing the Parikhanda skills. Bhangimas are the expressions conveyed through body language, since the faces are covered by masks. Chhau’s footwork and body language includes a complete mixture of the natural movements of men and women in tandem with the ecosystem. Says an awestruck Shantini Sarah, “Having read a lot about the Chhau dance form it was a fabulous experience to actually see the students in the Government Chhau academy actually practising it.”

ChandrabhagaAs you must be aware, our Jharkhand DCA documents the Seraikella Chhau dance form. The Seraikella Chhau Archive project is unique and challenging because the researchers are documenting a dance form shaped by a number of communities. The relationship between the communities and the art form is the broad focus of the research in Seraikella. According to Raja Pratap Aditya Singh Deo, the art form needs special attention from the government. But because of its debatable classification – is it a classical art form or is it a folk art form – is proving to be the biggest bottleneck. Therefore we are continuing further research and documentation on the tribal contributions to the development of the art form in and around Seraikella.

From our Ashakulam Archive:

Vagri Material CultureOur other two colleagues Manivannan and Aakash Nair are in Villupuram. They have been taking our new publication Vagri Material Culture back to the Nari Kurava Community. As a run-up to the book launch the two of them are touring various Nari Kurava settlements spread all over Tamil Nadu. In a first of its kind attempt, they are mobilizing the community to share a common platform during the book launch and use it as an opportunity to air their grievances. They are being assisted by Vagri Associates Raja and Manickam in this mammoth task.

There’s more good news from the Nari Kurava Archive. In keeping with the tradition of ringing in the new, the Nari Kurava Digital Community Archive is being completely revamped and updated. You will soon be able to see the latest photographs and videos of recent events and activities.

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!

From our Jenukuruba Archive:

Our other publication Playing with the Children of the Forest by Ksheerasagar is also scheduled to be released this month and hectic preparations are going on in HD Kote.

Workshop in Goa:

Our Director M.D. Muthukumaraswamy will be attending the ‘Emotions in South Asian and European Rituals’ Workshop which is to be held in Goa from January 4 to 6, 2010. Organized by Professors Axel Michaels from Heidelberg University and Christoph Wulf of the Free University Berlin, the Workshop aims at discussing such forms of emotions and gestures in rituals, focusing on their cognitive as well performative aspects. Goa was chosen “because of its transcultural history and present confined by multi-faceted flows between Europe and Asia.” And you thought Goa was famous only for the sun-soaked sandy beaches, local cuisine and the wine!!

Board Meeting:

We are also looking forward to our Board Meeting which is to be held in Chennai on January 9, 2010. Our Trustees from all over the country will be joining us to evaluate last year’s activities and chart out the course of activities for the new year.

On that cheery note we bid you adieu, and once again a very happy 2010!!

- 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, folklore advocacy with public programming events and digital technology with applications to voice the cultures of the marginalised and historically disadvantaged communities. 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.

The NFSC is a member of the Credibility Alliance. For information on the NFSC Board of Trustees, Staff, Annual Audit Reports and details of programme development, click here. To unsubscribe from this newsletter, mail info@indianfolklore.org. You can also give feedback, suggestions or criticism at info@indianfolklore.org NFSC, 508, Fifth Floor, “Kaveri Complex”, 96, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam,
Chennai- 600034, Tamilnadu, India
Ph.:044 – 28229192, 044 – 42138410, 044 – 28212706

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