May 2010


Table of Contents


From our Seraikella Digital Community Archive

From our Orissa Digital Community Archive

From our Ashakulam Digital Community Archive

Encyclopaedia Indica

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Gives to NFSC

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

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Events Calendar:

May 19

Contemporary World Cinema (CWC) along with NFSC will screen the film ‘The Sun’s Burial‘ (Nagisha Oshima/ Japan/Col/120 min) 6 p.m.

May 20

CWC along with NFSC will screen the film ‘The Bone Man‘(Wolfgang Murnberger/Denmark/1986/Col/117 min), 6p.m.

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NFSC Portal for Journals:

All issues of Indian Folklife can be accessed at our Journal Portal. Full archives of the Indian Folklore Research Journal are available at our Journal Portal. NFSC Books and Monographs can also be accessed at our Journal Portal. As you all must be aware that this service was launched as there is no existing software to help authors and scholars to publish their books and monographs online.

Keeping with our tradition for innovation, we have customized the open journal system to do the same. You too can send in your contributions to

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Encyclopaedia Indica:

We have some new entries on our Encyclopaedia Indica. Find out more about the folklore related to the Neem Tree and the Dilo Oil Tree. These interesting articles were contributed by N. Amirthalingam. Folktales related to Cobra can also be found at our website.

Below is a Madhubani painting of a Camel also known as the “Ship of the Desert” by artists Kiran Devi, Phoolmaya Devi and Shanthi Devi. Folktales relating to the Camel will soon be posted on Encyclopaedia Indica.


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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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Our Reports:

A comprehensive Annual Report on the activities, fieldwork and documentation that took place at our six Digital Community Archives in Tamilnadu, Orissa, Karnataka, Kerala, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh from April 2009 to March 2010 can be viewed here.

The board of trustees of National Folklore Support Centre met on the 10th of January 2010 to evaluate our Narikurava/Vaagri Digital Community Archive Project situated in Ashakulam, Villupuram (dist), Tamil Nadu. To view the detailed report click here.

To view the annual audit report for the financial year 2009-2010 click here.

Dear Friends,

A very warm hello to all of you from the National Folklore Support Centre!

For us busy bees at NFSC, activities are proceeding at a blistering pace despite the rising temperatures and the stifling heat wave in Chennai.

As we mentioned in our April 2010 newsletter, we have been accorded the status of the first Indian non-profit channel on YouTube. The credit for getting us this status goes to Tom Davenport of Folklstreams, Steve Knoblock, also from Folkstreams and YouTube’s Obadiah Greenberg. US-based Non-Profit Organisation Folkstreams is a national preserve of documentary films about American roots and cultures. We have so far uploaded 17 of our documentaries at NFSC’s YouTube Channel. Now you can view our documentaries from the comfort of your home or office. Please do visit the site and subscribe to our channel to stay connected to our world of folklore. Step by step we will be moving our entire video archive of field recordings to our channel. We also sincerely hope to receive your positive feedback and inputs to help us improve ourselves!!

NFSC News:

On April 12, 2010, Niyati Mehta, Programme Officer (Media, Arts and Culture) from the Sir Dorabji Tata and Allied Trusts came down to Chennai to evaluate NFSC and its Tamilnadu Archive. She visited our archive at Ashakulam in Villupuram district, interacted with the Narikuravas and was overwhelmed by the affection of the women from the community. They presented her with bead necklaces of vivid colours and posed for pictures with her. Ms. Mehta also listened to presentations by our researchers and senior scholars Professors Bhakathavathsala Bharathi and Srinivasa Varma and took time to watch three of the documentaries made by our fieldworkers.

Our director will be off to the cooler climes of Norway to participate in the conference “Cultural Histories of Meditation: Practice and Interpretation in a Global Context”, at Halvorsbole Conference Centre, near Oslo. The conference is being organised by the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, Oslo, Norway. He will be presenting a paper on “Vedic chanting as householder’s meditation practice in the Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta tradition”.

Great news for aspiring researchers from the North Eastern part of India is that NFSC has called for proposals for the TATA Fellowship for North East India, 2010. National Folklore Support Centre’s TATA Fellowships are meant for the residents of North Eastern India. This program facilitates an experienced scholar belonging to one community from the region to work collaboratively with another community’s elder or an artist to document the community elder/artist’s tradition for a year long period. It would be wonderful if you can circulate this newsletter to all your friends in North East India who would be benefited by this fellowship For more details on the requirements and qualifications please click here.

The icing on the cake though is reserved for this interesting piece of news. UNESCO is accrediting NFSC in the third session of the General Assembly to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which will take place from 22 to 24 June 2010 at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris. The accreditation will enable us to provide advisory services for the inter-governmental committee on intangible cultural heritages.

From our Seraikella Digital Community Archive:

Our field workers have returned from Seraikella, Jharkhand more jubilant than ever after successfully documenting the Chaitra Parva Festival 2010. Seraikella’s spring season, the festive mood electrifying the atmosphere in Singhbhum, and the heady experience of being part of the annual Chaitra Parva festival has had its effect on them. Our colleague Shanthini Sarah who witnessed the grandeur of the festival for the first time didn’t have words to describe her experience. The experience was made even more special as this year the festival saw the inclusion of new events to its varied itinerary adding to its already rich flavour. Usually only four Ghatas, that represent the four Yugas (Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali), constitute the rituals of the Parva. This year saw the addition of Ashok Ghataa which was introduced in fond remembrance of Prince Suvendra, a renowned Chhau dancer, who met with a tragic death at a very young age. The dance performed during the procession was a mixture of various compositions which were Prince Suvendra’s favorites such as the Sagar, Ratri and Mayur.

This year the Government Chhau Academy conducted a village competition in which nearly 20 villages participated and gave splendid performances. The rituals, dance competitions and the performances by the young Chhau students added splendour to the academy as well as the Raja’s Palace where the events took place.

We had mentioned in our newsletter last month about the formation of the management committee as a precursor to handing over the management of the archive back to the community. In this regard, the committee which was formed last month under the leadership of Guru Tapan Kumar Pattanaik has gained considerable momentum in the desired direction and is holding regular weekly meetings.

From our Orissa Digital Community Archive:

The Digital Community Archive set up by NFSC, in collaboration with Adibasi Sanskruti Gabesana Parishad [AGSP] at Sinapali in the district of Nuapada, Orissa for preserving the rich cultural practices and expressions prevalent in the region has come a long way since its inception. The districts of Kalahandi and Nuapada plagued by chronic drought and water shortage represent a wide range of traditional as well as socio-cultural diversity, being home to a variety of ethnic groups including the Gonds and Bhunjias.

Our fieldworkers at the digital community archive were on their toes as the month of Chaitra or the spring season set in. The? Jatra is celebrated in the month of Chaitra by the Gond and Bhunjia tribes before sowing their fields. We have documented the festival at Litiguda village where the flowers of the religious tree Mahul and Palsa are offered to the deities Gangadhi and Chottibudhi. Fieldworkers were transported to a different world while documenting sacrifices of goats and cocks as the devotees were possessed by Chottibudhi or Gangadhi. The devotees also torment themselves physically by falling on sharp nails stuck to a wooden board and whipping themselves as part of their worship.

From our Ashakulam Digital Community Archive:

Our colleagues are back with some interesting footage after the second phase of the documentary on the traditional herbal medicines of the Narikuravas. They along with our collaborator for the DCA, Ashakulam, Prof. Bhaktavatsala Bharati visited remote villages in Tamil Nadu like Vayalur, Vandhavasi, Manamadhi and Moranam to collect as much data as possible on the vast knowledge of the Narikuravas on traditional herbal medicine. The last and final leg of the documentary will be done in the first or second week of May at Chennai and we will soon have a documentary that will be informative as well as educational.

A Tulsi Bead Making Project for the empowerment of Narikurava women is also in the anvil. The raw material for the empowerment scheme will be acquired by NFSC and the beads will be made by selected women. The finished products will be packaged and marketed with authentication from NFSC. The money generated will be used for the empowerment of the community.

Encyclopaedia Indica:

Encylcopaedia Indica is undergoing a major makeover to make it more reader-and-kid-friendly.

Gond HensIn the meantime, M.D. Muthukumaraswamy’s NFSC Lore‘s latest addition is “The story of the first woodpecker”. You can also find out “Why the Peetweet cries for Rain” and “Why the Dove is Timid”. You might also find it interesting to read “The Story of the First Frog” and “The Story of the First Hummingbird” as well as “Why the Parrot repeats the Words of Men”.

We will be back next month with more interesting updates from our archives and more exciting news. We also have a board meeting to look forward to next month. In the meantime take care and stay cool!!!

- Aakaash Nair

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 You can also give feedback, suggestions or criticism at NFSC, 508, Fifth Floor, ‘Kaveri Complex’, 96, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai 600 034, Tamilnadu, India
Phone: 044-28229192, 044-42138410, 044-28212706

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