Folklore of India

The folklore of India compasses the folklore of the nation of India and the Indian subcontinent. The subcontinent of India contains a wide diversity of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. That’s why it is difficult to generalize widely about the folklore of India as a unit. Hinduism is the religion of the majority of the citizens of India. Folk religion in Hinduism may explain the rationale behind local religious practices, and contain local myths that explain the existence of local religious customs or the location of temples. These sorts of local variation have a higher status in Hinduism than comparable customs would have in religions such as Christianity or Islam. Some have claimed that the very concept of “folklore of India" represents a colonial imposition that disparages the Hindu religion. However, folklore as currently understood goes beyond religious or supernatural beliefs and practices. Indian folk heroes in Sanskrit epics and history and also in freedom movement are well known to every one. They have found a place in written literature. But in Indian cultural sub-system, Indian folk heroes are most popular. The castes and tribes of India have maintained their diversities of culture through their language and religion and customs. So in addition to national heroes, regional heroes, and local folk and tribal heroes are alive in the collective memory of the people. Lets take examples of the Santals or the Gonds. The Santals have their culture hero "Beer kherwal" and "Bidu Chandan". Gonds have their folk hero "Chital Singh Chatri". Banjara folk hero is "Lakha Banjara" or "Raja Isalu". But not only heroes, the heroines of Indian folklore have also significant contribution in shaping the culture of India. Banjara epics are heroine-centric. These epics reflect the "sati" cult. Folk heroes are some times worshipped in the village. There is a thin difference of a mythic hero and romantic hero in Indian folklore. In Kalahandi oral epics are available among the ethnic singers performed in ritual context and social context. Dr Mahendra Mishra, a folklorist has conducted research on oral epics in kalahandi taking seven ethnic groups. Indian oral epics are found abundantly every where there are caste based culture.Prof. Lauri Honko from Turku, Finland with prof. Vivek Rai and Dr K Chinnapa Gawda have extensively conducted field work and research on Siri Epic and have come out with three volumes on Siri Epic. Similarly Prof.Peter J Claus has done intensive work on Tulu epics. Aditya Mallick on Devnarayan Epic,Pulikonda Subbachary on jambupurana, Dr JD Smith on Pabuji epic are some of the commendable work that have been drawn attention of the wider readership.