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MEG-16: Indian Folk Literature

MEG-16: Indian Folk Literature

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

If you are looking for MEG-16 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Indian Folk Literature, you have come to the right place. MEG-16 solution on this page applies to 2022-23 session students studying in MEG, PGDWM courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MEG-16 / TMA / 2022-23

Course Code: MEG-16

Assignment Name: Indian Folk Literature

Year: 2022 -2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Attempt any five questions. All questions carry equal marks. (20X5=100)


Q 1. What are the major thematic and narrative concerns in folk literature?

Ans) Folk literature themes are inspired by universal truths, lessons, and values relevant to people's lives and actions. Folk tales are frequently oriented toward promoting reason and rationality over superstitions and blind faith. It is worth noting that, despite the absence of a formalised system of theoretical and modernised literary paradigms, folk literature is shaped with a liberal worldview. On the surface, the texts appear to be dealing with dated issues such as not having children, kings without heirs, and superstitions related to various socio-cultural issues, but the folk literary spirits, on the whole, uphold the positive and liberal shades of humanity.


One of the mediaeval Jain stories, 'Prince Charming,' for example, questions the importance of physical beauty over the inner or spiritual self. This storey highlights the futility of corporeal exquisiteness and emphasises the ethereal self.


Narrative Concern of Folk Literature


In folk literature, personification is a common theme. Folk literature maintains a general worldview of "vasudhaivkutumbkam": a Sanskrit phrase that means "the entire world is a family," in keeping with the spirits of pagan traditions and various nature-related myths and legends. Animals and plants are both members of the global family. As a result, humans, animals, and plants are equally represented and portrayed as protagonists and characters in folk literature. This sharing of life's and the world's concerns within one big family confirms an inherent truism that the world is incomplete without all kinds of living beings, and thus strengthens the cause of nature preservation and conservation. The storey "The Mighty," a short but comprehensive storey about a massive tree and a willow, explains how inanimate objects are given human characteristics.



Folk literature contains a lot of hyperbole. Human and other animate character stories frequently depict larger-than-life deeds and events involving the virtuous who outshines all vices. It creates a world of make-believe in situations where realistic depictions may limit imagination. For young readers and impressionable minds, the use of hyperbole creates awe and a lasting impression, securing a place in their memory for that piece of folklore. The same piece is passed on to the next listener via a recollection from memory that has captured the strength of the fantasy generated by the story's hyperbolic elements. As a result, it contributes to the survival of folk literature.


Allusions to Mythology

The use of allusions to mythology, historical events, cultural beliefs, and myths is one of the defining characteristics of folk literature. People's familiarity with a topic is deepened and their associations with it are broadened when allusions are used. In point of fact, regardless of religion or sect, mythology has been a major source of folktales; traditional tales have repeatedly been inspired by figures from mythology.


Allusions to Religion

Religious allusions are woven throughout, and the gods are frequently portrayed as the protagonists in the tales that are told. The fact that gods and goddesses have humanity creates an inversion to the exaggerated deeds that humans are capable of, and as a result, the mistakes that gods and goddesses make and the struggles that they face bring them closer to humans.


Court -Wits

Court-wits have always been an inevitable part of Indian folktales. From the stories of Birbal to Tenali Raman they have always made their presence felt. One of the seminal aspects of these court-wits is their place in history and how historical events are inter-woven into their narratives.

Q 3. Discuss the seminal contributions of A K Ramanujan to folk literature, especially to folktales.

Ans) A. K. Ramanujan carved out a niche for himself in folklore writings. His knowledge of Indian languages and cultures is important, but his inventive use of theory, cultural, psychological, and literal is even more so. He was fascinated by folktales as a genre, but he always placed them within larger systems of meaning, such as India's classical literature and devotional poetry. Ramanujan's stories are unparalleled in their breadth of sources. They are a rich and fascinating tapestry of stories that are infused with the author's distinct sense of humour and beauty.


Ramanujan, who was fascinated by oral tales, began collecting them in the 1950s and continued to do so until around 1970. His vast collection of folktales from a wide range of Indian languages is an intriguing cultural artefact of oral traditions from many Indian cultures. "In my twenties... I collected tales from anyone who would tell me one: my mother, servants, aunts, men and women in village families with whom I stayed when I was invited to lecture in local schools, schoolteachers and schoolchildren, carpenters, tailors," Ramanujan explained (Blackburn ix). Ramanujan's stories depict ordinary people's lives.


Folktales from India by AK Ramanujan is a collection of oral tales from 22 languages that offer a delightful platter of 110 stories originating from various parts of the country but sharing a collective ethos that is bound to resonate with every Indian. According to Ramanujan, a well-known poet and author, the book presents "examples of favourite narratives from the subcontinent." The stories chosen are from actual tellers rather than literary texts, and some were collected or recollected by him. Essentially, these are stories that have never been published in English before. Readers interested in Indian folklore and culture will be aware that Ramanujan has made significant contributions to these fields.


Many of the stories are ones we've heard as children, some in the form presented here and others with minor variations. Each storey captures the regional specificities and cultural idiosyncrasies, and thus on ‘migration,' each tale adapts to local peculiarities and morphs to take on different shapes and forms while retaining its original structure. As is inherent in oral traditions, which tend to travel far and wide, some of the stories here may sound familiar to people living in various parts of the world.


Many oral tales revolve around characters such as Akbar and Birbal, Tenali Rama, and Hiraman parrot, the evil queen, the cunning sister, the penniless Brahman, the clever princess, and the tortured daughter-in-law. Stories of victimisation, chivalry, selfless service, and other human/superhuman strengths and flaws as situations unfold to prove a point can be found here. A'moral' lesson is not always required at the end; sometimes it is enough to outwit another. Some of these stories are excessively violent at times, and children should only read them with adult guidance and supervision.


These are stories told in simple colloquial language about a forgotten era that appears to be far removed from our current world. Gods, demons, and ghosts all have a physical form, and animals talk and converse with humans; interestingly, their actions are frequently as clever and silly as humans'!


In most parts, the book is a delightful read that will keep you entertained on a lazy afternoon with a hot cup of coffee! It describes India's vastness, diversity, and traditions, as well as myths, superstitions, and folklore. A cultural melting pot that transports you to another era!

Q 4. What is the difference between the tribal and folk cultures in any given culture? Discuss with case studies.

Ans) Many people define culture as social rather than individual, local rather than universal, learned rather than instinctive, historical rather than biological, evolved rather than planned, distributed rather than centralised, and cultivated rather than coarse. Scholars distinguish between cultural expressions and their underlying structures. Activities such as singing, dancing, dressing, and artistry are examples of expressions, as are the typical media depictions of Indians. Marriage, child-rearing, socialising, worshipping, governing, and working are all foundational activities.


'Tribe' And 'Tribal' Culture

Tribe refers to economic and sociocultural life patterns. Modern anthropology defines 'tribe' as a social stage. It was assumed that hunting and gathering societies would evolve into 'tribal' formations, then republics or monarchies. Tribes are stages in human society's evolution from primitive to modern. Thus, tribal society was considered primitive compared to modern society, or in an earlier stage of social development.


In tribal society, old, experienced men or young, brave warriors or priests are regarded as leaders. Wise old women are revered. Tribes have unique languages, music, stories, and paintings. They have gods and goddesses.


"Tribe" must be understood as a specific mode of existence with its own codes when viewed in terms of social organisation or cultural practises. Kinship relationships, cultural narratives, economic strategies, and political formations are more related to geography and history than to social evolution.


Folk Culture

Folk culture cannot be defined solely through geographical or literary criteria. It can belong to people of the same race, gender, religion, or occupation. It can cross geographical boundaries and have close human-to-human interaction. It can also be influenced by technology and modern society. Folk always implies some sort of collectivity because it is a shared experience shared by more than one person. Even if it is created by one person, a folk culture cannot exist unless it is shared and collective. It is not necessary for all folk members to know one another. They can be far apart and unrelated in any way. Folk does not always imply rural or lower class. There may be a significant urban literate population. Television, computers, and telephones have all had an impact on folk genres such as jokes, songs, stories, and myths. It has become an invaluable tool for the transmission and generation of new folk cultures.


Folk culture is alive and thriving. Folklore was thought to be a dead culture in the nineteenth century, but this is incorrect. It is inextricably linked with a vibrant, ever-changing cultural tradition of any region. Its meaning and significance can shift over time, but its essence remains constant. Certain jokes and proverbs, for example, no longer have any social significance; however, they remain part of folk culture. Folklore is often associated with deception and fantasy in the minds of many people.


Case Study of Odisha

Odisha's folk culture is characterised by homogeneity, cultural consciousness, group identity, dying languages, and folk beliefs, rituals, and practises. Folk culture includes large social units, elite culture, and rural Hindu traditions. Cultural items, meanings, and values are being distorted, threatening its literature. Folk literature follows oral traditions passed down through songs, tales, legends, mythology, superstitions, and proverbs. Foster defines folk culture as "a common way of life that characterises many villages, towns, and cities" Odisha's folk literature emphasises religious, historical, and oral traditions. Homogeneity refers to a group's shared way of life, which fosters cultural awareness and a sense of oneness. Larger cultural systems, whether tribal, rural, ethnic, urban, or industrial, share a common religiosity and history.


Foreign influences have distorted Odia folk culture's items, values, and morals. Odia folk literature has remained consistent despite these changes. Orally transmitted folksongs, folktales, myths, legends, superstitions, proverbs, riddles, and stories. Children learn nonverbal folklore like games, dances, and street plays. Dalkhai, Sajani, and Rasarkeli songs from Sambalpur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Nowrangpur, Nuapada, Kalahandi, and Sundergarh are becoming written texts. Localizing the Ramayana and Mahabharata led to oral storytelling. Oral folklore makes tracing its origins difficult.


Q 5. Discuss the folk elements in T Shankar Pillai’s novel, Chemmeen.

Ans) Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai wrote Chemmeen in Malayalam in 1956. Chemmeen tells the storey of Karuthamma, the Hindu fisherman's daughter, and Pareekutti, the son of a Muslim fish wholesaler. The novel's theme is a myth among the fishermen communities along the southern Indian state of Kerala. The myth is about virginity. If the married fisherwoman were unfaithful while her husband was at sea, the Sea Goddess (Kadalamma literally means Mother Sea) would devour him. Thakazhi wrote this novel in order to perpetuate this myth. It was adapted into a film of the same name, which received both critical and commercial success.


Folk Elements in the novel Cheemeen

Thakazhi departed from his avowed commitment to realism, as seen in his previous works, and introduced a fresh breeze of lyricism and romanticism. The novel takes on the quality of a fable, with vivid depictions of life in the fishermen's community. Thakazhi's pen magically brings the customs, taboos, beliefs, rituals, and day-to-day business of living through the pain of stark existence to life.


Chemmeen is presumably, the novel's blend of inner landscapes of the characters' minds with the minutiae of social life by the seaside has captured the attention of readers of all languages. Thakazhi's weaving of the storey, rich in circumstantial details and replete with what Henry James referred to as "solidity of specification" that works well for both the locale and the authentic integration of folk elements, has earned Chemmeen a place in the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works. This inclusion effectively means that Thakazhi's contribution to authentically depicting a community's cultural life in a way that appeals to an international readership has been accepted.


Folk implies the masses, so any form that crystallises their ways of life is considered folk art. As you have seen while taking this course, folk art takes many forms and mediums of expression. Folklore, like literature, is an example of verbal art. This helps to explain the close relationship between folklore and literature.


According to Propp in his "Introduction" to Theory and History of Folklore: "Literature and folklore overlap partially in their poetic genres." There are literary genres (for example, the novel) and folklore genres (for example, the charm), but both folklore and literature can be classified by genres, which is a fact of poetics. As a result, some of their tasks and methods are similar. When read in conjunction with his broad assumption that when we talk of folklore, we almost always imply the art of the lower social strata of all peoples, regardless of their stage of development, the "tasks and methods" that Propp speaks of become clear when we place these in the context of a novel like Chemmeen.


Chemmeen becomes a classic exploration as a folklore text in these two aspects: recording the minutiae of the life of a vocation-based community placed away from our known surroundings and doing so by becoming an integral part of the community.

Q 6. Discuss the folk theatrical forms—Jatra, Kathakali, Tamasha, Nautanki and Pala—with examples of your choice from different Indian regions.

Ans) In India, folk theatre is a synthesis of elements from music, dance, pantomime, versification, epic and ballad recitation, graphic and plastic arts, religion, and festival peasantry. The folk theatre, which has its roots in native culture, is deeply ingrained in local identity and social values. Folk theatre has been widely used in India to spread critical social, political, and cultural issues in the form of theatrical messages in order to raise public awareness. As an indigenous form, it transcends all forms of formal human communication and speaks directly to the people.


Some of these are discussed below:


Jatra in West Bengal

Jatra refers to religious rituals and ceremonies, as well as musical plays performed at fairs in honour of gods. Bengal gave birth to and flourished with this dance-drama. Krishna Jatra gained popularity as a result of Chaitanya's influence. However, worldly love stories eventually found their way into Jatra. Jatra's previous incarnation was musical. Dialogues were added later on. The actors describe the change of scene, the location of action, and so on.


Kathakali in Kerela

'Kathakali' is a form of storytelling in Indian classical dance. Kerala's dance drama. Kathakali's storey is told through excellent footwork, face and hand gestures, music, and vocal performance. The intricate and vivid make-up, unique face masks, and costumes worn by dancers, as well as their style and movements, reflect age-old martial arts and athletic conventions in Kerala and surrounding regions. Traditionally performed by male dancers, it evolved in Hindu courts and theatres, not temples or monasteries.


Tamasha of Maharashtra

Tamasha is a type of theatre that focuses heavily on music and dance. It is famous for carrying lyrics with a double meaning, soft erotic themes, and dance movements, for which the Maharashtrian elites have a tendency to look down on this folk art. Tamasha is divided into two popular forms: dholki bhaari and sangeet baari, with the latter being the older form and featuring more songs and dances than theatrics. As times changed, women joined the Tamasha, and this art quickly became famous for bringing out the glamorous side of their female actors, who danced sensuously in bold and expensive zari lined dresses/ sarees.


Nautanki of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab etc.

Nautanki is a form of theatre that combines songs, dances, stories, witty dialogues, humour, and melodrama. It originated in the late 19th century in Uttar Pradesh, was originally known as Swang, and was mainly popular among the lower-class communities. Swangs were held in the open, on makeshift stages, and performed in villages, towns, cities, bazaars, factory gates, etc. One of the most famous swangs in the 1890s was titled Shehzadi Nautanki (based on a Punjabi folk tale), which gave Swang its new name: Nautanki.



Pala is a Sanskrit-Odia folk ballad. 5-6 people perform this art. The group has a Gayaka, a Bayaka, and other Palia (Chorus). Gayaka's right hand holds a 'Chamara' (fly whisker) and cymbals. He explains Puranic tales. The chorus dances rhythmically with Gayaka. The Pala is performed on Ekousia (the 21st day of a baby's birth, when the naming ceremony is held) or 'Satyanarayana puja.' Two types of Pala are linked to Lord Satyanarayana. 'Baithaki' and 'Thia' (standing).


Some examples of different Regions in India


Listed below are some popular examples of Regional Folk theatre, I observed:


1. Maach, the traditional theatre form of Madhya Pradesh, draws prominence from its ‘bol’ and ‘vanag’. The rhyme in narration, vanag, is given prominence in between the dialogues or bol. A typical feature of Maach is the blending of religious and secular themes via semi-sacred characters.


2. Bhand Pather, the traditional theatre form of Kashmir, is a unique combination of dance, music and acting. Satire, wit and parody are preferred for inducing laughter. In this theatre form, music is provided with surnai, nagaara and dhol. Since the actors of Bhand Pather are mainly from the farming community, the impact of their way of living, ideals and sensitivity is discernible.


3. Therukoothu, the most popular form of folk drama of Tamil Nadu, literally means "street play". It is mostly performed at the time of annual temple festivals of Mariamman (Rain goddess) to achieve rich harvest. At the core of the extensive repertoire of Therukoothu there is a cycle of eight plays based on the life of Draupadi.v

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