Jan 29, 2009

Indian Tribal Literature

It took thousands of years before the Indian tribal literature completed its journey from word-of-mouth presence to coming into vogue formally. The lingual tradition of any race has to come to in black and white to become literature. The fate of oral literature witnessed became significant when printing technology started impacting India during the 19thcentury. The languages that had their own script began to be considered quite well. On the contrary, those without any script presence and printed literature never earned their own states. Taking into consideration the odds, it is truly surprising to have tribal literature preserved in India.

The number of languages tribal communities in India speak is truly huge. According to the Indian consensus figures, there are as many as 90 tribal languages with speech communities of over ten thousand. Tribal languages including Kukna, Bhili, Gondi, Mizo, Garo, Santhali, Kinnauri, Garhwali, Dehwali, Warli and Pawri have their own tribal literature in oral form. It is interesting to note that many of the Indian tribes have turned to writing to enrich the legacy of tribal literature in India. Today, many of the tribal languages in India possess their own script. Tribal writers came into limelight when Dalit literature attracted the country's attention.

Now, this is quite obvious that tribal literature has transcended the boundaries of mere folk songs and dance forms. Complex literature genres like novel and drama have come into play. Daxin Bajrange's Budhan Theatre in Ahmedabad has been serving as a base for developing contemporary plays. Tribal writers have also found space in little magazines like Chattisgarh Lokakshar and Dol to express their concerns and thoughts. Conference focusing on tribal literature are being regularly organised in states like Jharkhand, Gujarat and Delhi.


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