The unwritten world of tribal folklore will soon find its way into hard volumes, thanks to a compilation being put together by Jharkhand Tribal Research Institute (JTRI) in nine languages.
“Each tribal community— Hos, Mundas, Santhals, Kharias, Kurukhs, Nagpuri, Panch Parganias, Khortha and Kurmalis — have their own legends, myths, songs, dances, plays, riddles, proverbs, metaphors and mantras. These aspects of tribal culture have never been documented and are only in memory, being handed down from generation to generation only by word of mouth,” Soma Munda, assistant director, Jharkhand Tribal Research Institute, Ranchi, said.
Many aspects of tribal culture like mind teasing riddles or weather forecasts, the various mantras that are used ostensibly to drive away evil spirits, lullabies to put toddlers to sleep etc. are lost today. These have never been recorded anywhere. “After intense research spanning years, we have begun the process of documenting these aspects of tribal culture. We will be coming out with nine volumes in separate tribal languages. All nine volumes are being printed,” Munda revealed.
A popular saying in Kurmali goes: Chait ke pachiva Bhadon jala Bhadon pachiva Magh ke pala (If it rains in the month of Chaitra, rains would be scanty during Bhadon or August-September. And if it rains during Bhadon, winters would be severe). The JTRI assistant director pointed out that this popular saying is similar to Khonar Bachan that is still popular in Bengal.
Then there are riddles. Lali gai pani khai pani khale, mori jaye. This means fire. Fire looks red, which can be doused out with water.