Folklore And The Art Of Story Telling: Lost In The Ashes Of Time

Posted on October 31, 2010 in Culture-Vulture

By Drishti Chhibber:

When we talk of India’s culture we mention our dance forms, classical music, our Mahabharata, Ramayana, Gita, yoga, our deities and what not! But we seem to have forgotten one of the most ancient aspect of our culture which forms an integral part in all of the above.

Our Folklores or Folk Tales. Folklores are the culmination of the different religious beliefs, supernatural incidents and traditions which circulate within a socio-religious group.  Folk tales of different states and religions display our ethnic and cultural diversity. It reminds us of our rituals and customs. We all have grown up reading Panchatantra, Jataka and Hitopadesha tales. Remember how we learnt through these tales that spreading rumours can be dangerous; honesty is the best policy and how we were amazed at Birbal’s witty comments and amused by Tenali’s unusual situations and entranced by Amrapali and her dance.

Folk tales have formed a part of our rich heritage since time immemorial. Traditional story tellers known as bhopas used to sit with people around them in circles and paint a glorious picture of what we proudly call our motherland – India. Of course now it has transformed to comic books, television serials and 3D movies. But still nothing can beat being squeezed inside a blanket and listening to your grandmother describing Arjun’s Chakravyuha. Also these folk tales were used in post-independence times to search for our national identity by looking at our tales, myths, beliefs, religion etc.

It’s amazing how much we can learn from stories when we are kids and blissfully forget all those morals when we grow up. How many of us really know the real reason behind celebrating all our major festivals? Everything seems to have succumbed to commercialisation, even our age old traditions. We can’t just put the blame on someone for it. It has just got lost in translation. We don’t come across story tellers anymore neither are the people interested in the spectacular story renditions through our classical forms of dance and music. Westernisation has taken over. Hip hop is in and Kathak out. Many Indian folklorists are trying to revive this dead culture. It’s time to go back to our roots and give respect to this long lost culture. It’s the best way to inculcate moral values. Let’s start flipping through Panchatantras, catch a folk tale rendition at the Indian Habitat Centre or just go to our grandmother and ask her to tell us how Ram defeated Ravan once again.