Myths and Legends in the Oral literature of the Tribal Of the Tribal people of South -West Rajasthan (Banswara and Dungarpur district), India

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Jayshree Singh
Simran Jain


The present study is an attempt to examine and explore the oral literature of the tribal community of South Rajasthan particularly the districts of Banswara and Dungarpur which known as Wagad region and the dialect used by the tribes of this area is called Wagri or Bhili dialect. It is needless to say that large numbers of dialects have disappeared over the years. One major disadvantage of the modern education that it has destroyed the dialects of the indigenous society. And as a result of that badly damaged the spectrum of culture of this communities. Same is the case with the tribal people of wagad region (South -West Rajasthan of India). As the tribal youth are getting educated and coming into the contact of the main stream society, they move away from the dialect and their culture and as a result of that the Wagri dialect is also on the verge of extinction. The tribal youth do not show any interest in their songs and stories. The real problem why the tribal oral literature did not get proper attention or the message did not come out in the limelight, because of the lack of education in this backward area. Some of the local writers tried to depict the content of the oral literature in the local dialect or at the most in Hindi. But it did not get any commentary in English, because the native users of the dialect don’t know English language and the scholars of English do not have the excess to the dialect and this gap resulted in the oral literature and its meaning remaining untold in English language. Therefore, the main objective if the present study would be to present the hidden meaning and the message which the tribal community has to convey through their oral literature. The investigation would attempt to collect translate codify explain and analyse the oral literature for the benefit of the international audience. A sincere effort needs to be made to collect and explain 4 the songs, the proverbs and the stories of the tribes. They have a typical way of singing and dancing, there proverbs are full of practical wisdom. They are known for their art of story-telling. All these characteristics a tribute to the tribal culture which the present study would held upon. Most of the philosophy of oral literature of tribes is based on myths and legends. There is no individual composer of the oral literature and it is a community endeavour which has been passed on from one generation to next generation and therefore there is no individual bias present in the oral literature and obviously it is closer to humanity in comparison to any other piece of literature written by any other individual author. All the tribal songs and stories are full of the description and depiction of myths and legends.

Tribes are believed to be the first settlers on any given piece of land. Tribes are called Adivasis which means the First settlers. They have been very backward illiterate and savage community. The most remarkable characteristic of tribal community is that they live in an isolated secludet lifestyle in natural surroundings. All their activities are influenced by the nature and traditionally they depended for their livelihood on nature and that is why the sociologists call them animist or nature lovers. Tribal people have a typical behaviour, they are full of excitement and lead a carefree lifestyle within their community, they sing and dance enthusiastically and excitedly within themselves but they shy away if there is any external interference or exposer. The young tribal girls sing so loudly the voice comes from the depth of heart. When they are unaware of any outsiders’ presence in the same way as it has been described by the great nature poet, William Wordsworth in his beautiful poem ‘Solitary Reaper’- They hold her single in the field the solitary high land laws reaping and singing by herself, stop here or gently pass. The Wagad tribal girl is very much like the Wordsworth ‘Solitary Reaper’. The oral literature of this area has been conserved and sustained over the ages through oral traditions, the creator and composer of which is the entire community. With the fast spread of development and education, the life of the people is changing rapidly and rural youth are moving towards the urban area for a better life but in this struggle and the rough and tough nature of present race of the youngsters, the dialect is fast getting replaced by Hindi or English and as a result of that the oral literature is facing a threat of extinction. With this concern in the mind the scholar has deliberately chosen this 8 particular area for research. Therefore, the research area of study here would be the tribal oral literature of Banswara and Dungarpur dist. Which is known as Wagad region and particularly the portrayal of myths and legends which has always been a major source of attraction and curiosity of the community. Oral literature is full of mythical description almost every village in Wagad region has some mythical story attached to it. This reminds of the famous novel by the Indo-English novelist Raja Rao ‘Kanthapur’ in which the novelist gives an interesting description of the myth attached to deity Kanchama of the Kanthapura village. The villagers have great faith in Devi Kanchama and they believed that the Goddess had fought with and killed a dangerous demon to protect the village and that is why the colour of the soil around the Kanchama temple is red. Similarly, in tribal villages also there are large number of stories attached to their deities. They have stories of supernatural elements. There is no derth of the presence of witches, ghosts, nimbs and such supernatural agents in their songs and stories which keep the audience particularly the young children awestruck. In almost every village the parents, advise their children not to go near the big tamarind tree or the Pipal tree after sunset. They would tell them that a witch lives on a particular tree. Certainly, this are superstitious beliefs but it’s a part of their culture. Another major element of oral literature is the portrayal of legendary characters whom the tribes’ worship as their role models and path finders. The heroes who fought for the welfare of the community who stood up against the atrocities of the feudal lord or who sacrificed their life for the sack of the common cause. Such characters in the tribal history of the community became a subject of the oral poetry and songs and stories and are remembered as legends for them.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Minor Literature, Small Literatures, Literature in Small Nations