Ethnologist Ganesh Murmu in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
A tribal slice of life for the world to see, ideologue Ram Dayal Munda’s dream, is coming true in faraway Switzerland a year after his death.
The ethnographic museum of University of Zurich, Switzerland, will showcase lifestyles, practices and rituals of Indian tribes at an exhibition titled “500 Tribes, 1,000 Arrows and Bows”, from August 31 to September 15 for a global audience. It will comprise audio-visual digitised content and pictures of Indian tribal groups.
Ethnologist Ganesh Murmu, who will take part in the event, works at the tribal and regional language department of Ranchi University.
“I have been involved in this process of data collection and research from 1996. The exhibition on tribes had to be inaugurated by Ram Dayal Munda. He had conceived of developing digital content on tribes of India way back in 1995-96. Mundaji, who had extensive contacts in the West, convinced artists and scholars, particularly German artist Thomas Kaiser, who got associated with Zurich University, to take up the work. Mundaji is no more but his dream has come true,” Murmu, the only representative from Jharkhand at the event, said.
Since 1996, Zurich varsity experts teamed up with Indian ethnologists to collect digital material on festivals, religions, marriages, beliefs, folklore and myths as well as activities such as fishing and hunting of nearly 100 indigenous groups in Jharkhand, Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
These materials are available at the ethnographic museum of University of Zurich, ready for the big occasion.
Pictorial data is in sync with the audio-visual material.
“If a visitor is watching, say, a digital picture of Karma festival and wants to see its video, all he has to do is push a button and he can watch footage. He can read up an exhaustive write-up on the festival also,” the ethnologist explained the concept of the Swiss digital museum and exhibition on tribal India.
Murmu added that besides pictures and audio-visual content, visually lavish books on tribes would also be on display.
“Our primary aim was to cover all the tribes of India, including those in the Northeast. But, we have not been able to do so as of now. Much work needs to be done,” he said.