About the Book
The present book is a laudable attempt to study the folk literature and folk arts of the Banjara-Lambanis, one of the original tribes of 'real' India. Dr. Naik explores the so far unknown facets of Lambani folk literature and arts comprehensively folk songs, narrative songs, folk tales, proverbs, dance, Rangoli, embroidery, tattooing and folk dramas. In this book he establishes "a realm of study in which one could spend a lifetime with pleasure", mapping the whole world of Banjara-Lambanis oral tradition. So this book is highly useful to the academics and interesting to the laymen.
About the Author
Dhanasing Naik (b. 1956) who hails from a low middle class Banjara Lambani peasant family in Gulbarga District of Karnataka is a multi-faceted personality- a scholar, a poet, a director, an actor and folklorist par excellence.
He having a gold medal in B.A. and First Class in M.A. from Karnataka University, Dharwad and a Ph.D. from Gulbarga University in 1990, published twenty research papers and delivered ten lectures of which two at International Folk Art Museum at Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. He has published ten books on Folklore, Mass communication, Kannada literature and other subjects. He wrote a drama entitled "Giri Kogilegalu" and directed it. Being a member of several state level and national literary and cultural organizations, he is deeply interested in the scientific study of the folk songs, tales and folk dramas of tribal community in general and of Banjara-Lambani Community in particular.
At present he is a Reader in the Institute of Kannada Studies, Gulbarga University, Gulbarga. The book on the Tribal Community of Banjara Lambanis is an excellent work to be read and enjoyed not only by the academics but also by the public.
Theories come and go in folklore study. Fresh and juicy at first, they shrivel in time, dry up, and blow away into history. What lasts are the data. The foremost responsibility of the folklorist is to engage with other human beings, to record their creations, scientifically, lovingly, and to embed them in detailed descriptions that account for the process of their creation, they dynamics of their performance, the intricacies of their ramifying meanings.
Dr. Dhanasing Naik has, through long association and close study, created in this book a firm foundation for understanding the Lambani Banjara tradition. He has taken the first and most important step in folkloristic research. Struggling with two distinct concepts of classification- first, the pragmatic, native categorization of the creators, and second, the abstract, universalizing categorization of the scholarly tradition-he subdivides the oral literary corpus, sketches and exemplifies it so that the Lambani Banjara tradition can take its place in global understanding of folk creativity. Bringing the problems of classification to the fore, he characterizes the songs connected to specific occasions and developed especially among women, then he presents the long narrative songs of the bands. Using the international index of tale type, he both treats the varieties of oral narrative and discovers dissonance in the system. He brings proverbs and the particularly rich tradition of riddling into order in accord with academic conventions and then he closes with brief consideration of dance, decorative art, and drama. Throughout his work there is a laudable attempt to present the materials, to arrange them rationally and to shift toward cultural interpretation.
Now that Dr. Naik has mapped the world of Banjara Lambani oral tradition, we can both appreciate its depth and imagine future works that would feature in detail certain of its dimensions. The connections between song, occasion, and the women's lives would make a fascinating study. The narrative song of Sri Sevabhaya deserves to be presented in the existing and complete transcription of an actual performance so that it can become part of the international literature on the epic. The wonder songs, in which narratives comparable to the fairy tales of Europe are versified, raise important issues about composition and genre, and if offered in a collection of complete transcriptions, they would generate excitement within the community of folklore scholars. Certainly the dramatic tradition, new and robust, offers the student of folk drama a rare opportunity; full scripts and descriptions of performance would add greatly to our knowledge.
Dr. Naik is to be applauded for his work in the field, his labour in the library, his effort in bringing this rich and noble folk tradition before us. He has sketched the whole and established a realm of study in which one could spend a lifetime with pleasure. We wish him the best for the future as he strives to set the Banjara Lambani tradition before us in even greater detail, within even richer cultural context.
Now-a-days, the study of folklore and folk literature is of highest importance in the West, although it is surprisingly not so in the East, especially in our country. In such a situation there is a dire necessity of studying the literary, anthropological, psychological and linguistic aspects of a certain community like that of Banjara Lambanis, so far neglected by the sociologists, anthropologists and folklorists. There is none who cannot enjoy the traditional dance of a Lambani woman in an open space in her colourful dress with her hands rising up and falling down rhythmically.
For an educated man like me, who is born and bred up among the Lambanis, it is natural to study the folk culture of my people. Since my graduation I have been collecting the useful material for such a full-length study. Finding the field of study vast and complicated, I have to limit myself only to three aspects- folk culture, literature and folk arts and leave out other allied fields unwillingly.
The present book consists of seven chapters. Chapter One historically traces the origin and growth of the Lambanis and studies the socio cultural, religious, economic and political aspects. Chapter Two studies, at length, the Lambanis folk songs classifying them on the basis of themes and the significance of the festivals. Chapter Three analyses and interprets the innumerable narrative songs, of which the main are 'Sevabhaya', 'Jemal-Fatalmaler Geed', Veer Haridasal's Song etc. Chapter Four deals with the folk tales of the Lambanis, especially those of animals and of jokes and anecdotes, etc. Chapter Five throws light on the Lambanis proverbs bringing out their cultural significance. Chapter Six explains the popular Lambani riddles and Chapter Seven attempts an extensive study of performing arts of the Lambanis- dance, Rangoli, embroidery, tattooing and folk-dramas.
Many individuals were directly and indirectly involved in the making of this book. First of all, Dr. Henry Glassie, who was kind enough to take interest in the work, made a thorough reading of the manuscript and helped me with a "glossy" foreword for which I am highly indebted to him.
I am thankful to Mrs. Nora Fisher, MOIFA, who invited me to the International Folk Art Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A. for valuable exchange of thoughts and ideas. Moreover, she permitted me to make use of some of her rare photographs regarding the study of Lambanis. It is she who, for the first time, recommended the publication of this book through the publishers. Also I am thankful to Charlene Cerny, Director, MOIFA for giving me the necessary permission for use of some photographs from the book "The Mud-Mirror and Thread-The Rural Culture of India".
I am also thankful to Frank J. Kuram, Laura Morley, Laura Temple, Ian Hancock, and Enrique R. Lamadrid of U.S.A. for their co-operation. I am also very much thankful to my Ph.D. guide Dr. P.K. Khandoba, Sri D.T. Angadi, Sri R.M. Sasanur and Dr. V. R. Badiger, especially for proof-reading, Chennanna Walikar, Gurunath Chavan and Rupasing Chavan.
Many thanks to my wife, Savitha and children Rashmi and Rohit- who enabled me to complete the work in time.
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