A STUDY ON ASSAMESE FOLK LITERATURE AND ITS ROLE IN IMPARTING EDUCATION

Pranjal Protim Borah
Assistant Professor, Department of English
Jhanji Hemnath Sarma College, Sivasagar, Assam, India

 The Abstract
Assam has a rich record of folk literature. Folk literature has been developed through the ages. It has been able to unravel on the diverse facets of life and culture of the people. It is like a store house of delight for the people of Assam for all time. The ancient Assamese folk-literature has been playing an important role in traditional Assamese society. Assamese literature and culture have been enriched by folk-literature. The tales of ‘Tejimala’, ‘Malita’ (Ballads), folk-songs- all kinds of folk-literature have its great relevance. ‘Dakar-Bachan’ and other proverbs are still used frequently. Assamese folk-literature helps in imparting lessons to human beings, specially the women folk. It has a universal appeal. Women are taught various things, related to day to day life through folk-literature. Mainly, the grand-mothers generally use ‘Dakar-Bachan’ to educate their girls and daughter-in-laws about different aspects of life. Assamese folk-literature has been placed as a good educational source as it has eternal educational value. The present article would be an attempt to highlight Assamese folk literature and its role in imparting value education in the Assamese society, mainly to the women folk.
Key words: Value education, Women folk, Reliable index, Dakar- Bachan

1. Introduction
India has a legacy of rich and varied folk literature. Folk literature is a reliable index to the background of the people. There has always been an easy mobility of folklore through pilgrimages, melas and fairs. The wandering minstrels, sadhus, fakirs have also disseminated them. Folklore is a part of folk literature. People of the northeast visiting the temples of the south and vice versa carry their folk tales, songs, riddles and proverbs with them and there is an inconspicuous integration. The dharamsala, inns and the chattis, a place where the pilgrims rest, worked as the clearing house for the folk tales, traditional songs and riddles. This is why there is common pattern in folk literature of different regions. The folk literature was passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth before they came to be reduced to writing.

About folk literature different analysts have different interpretation. Max Mueller has interpreted the common pattern in folk literature as evidence of nature-myths. According to Sir L. Gomme, a historical approach is the best method for the study of folk literature. Frazer, a popular analyst said that old and popular folk literature is mutually interdependent and satisfies the basic curiosities and instincts of man (Maujumder, 1981). Through the folk literature man can exercise his imagination. The last source of the folk literature is human society itself.

Assam has a rich record of folk literature. Folk literature has been developing through the ages. It has thrown a flood light on the diverse facets of life and culture of the people. It is like a store house of delight for the people of Assam. The ancient Assamese folk-literature has been playing an important role in traditional Assamese society. Assamese literature and culture have been enriched by folk-literature. The tales of ‘Tejimala’, ‘Malita’ (Ballads), folk-songs- all kinds of folk-literature still have its great relevance. ‘Dakar-Bachan’ and other proverbs are still used frequently. Assamese folk-literature helps in imparting lessons to the society, specially the women folk. It has a universal appeal. Women are taught various things, related to day to day life through folk-literature. The grand-mothers use ‘Dakar-Bachan’ to educate their girls and daughter-in-laws about different aspects of life. Assamese folk-literature has been placed as a good educational source as it has eternal educational value.

2. Objective
The present article would be an attempt to highlight Assamese folk literature and its role in imparting value education in the Assamese society, mainly to the women folk. Through the article, an effort is made to identify ways of focusing Assamese folk literature as an essential tool in generating awareness among people about our old but rich cultural and social values.

3. Methodology
Analytical and descriptive method was employed in the discussion in the article. The study of this article was based on primary and secondary sources. It needs to be mentioned here that Assamese proverbs are collected from Oral sources as primary sources. Data was collected from different secondary sources like books and journals of different authors, website etc.Personal observations and interpretation were also added here.

4. Results and Discussion
Introduction of moral lessons or any dogma came in as a very natural development. Folk literature has been imparting education to the people in different aspects of life. Mainly, folk literature of Assam helps the women folk. Folk literature is like the ‘Dakar- Bachan’. It is like proverbs. In Assamese literature there are various kinds of folk based literature. Folk songs like ‘Biya Naam’ (Marriage song), ‘Bihu Naam’ etc. are called folk literature, which gives education on morality.

Akashi Ramdhenu Satuti Rang
আকাশী ৰামধেনু সাতটি ৰং৷
Keitamaan Katha Kou Nakora Khong
কেইটিমান কথা কওঁ নকৰা খং৷
Puwoti Nishate Uthiba Hui
পুৱতি নিশাতে উঠিৱা শুই৷
Bahibon Koriaai Dhariba Jui
বাহিবনে কৰিয়েই ধৰিবা জুই৷
Gaa Dhui Ahiaai Sahor Deg Tuli
গা ধুই আহিয়েই চাহৰ ডেগ তুলি৷
Sahu Aaik Matiba- O’ Aaita Buli
আই মাতিবা অআইতা বুলি৷
Aanibo Lagibo Duronir Pani
আনিব লাগিব দূৰণিৰ পানী৷
Lobogoi Lagibo Uroni Tani
লবগৈ লাগিব ওৰণি টানি৷
Bandhibo Lagibo Dhekite Dhan
বান্ধিব লাগিব ঢেঁকিতে ধান৷
Rakhibo Lagibo Dangoror Maan
ৰাখিব লাগিব ডাঙৰৰ মান৷
Bandhibo Lagibo Guhalir Garu
বান্ধিব লাগিব গৌআলিৰ গৰু৷
Hobogoi Lagibo Habatukoi Haru
বগৈ লাগিব সবাতোকৈ সৰু৷
Tetia Hahu Aai Morombur Paba
তেতিয়া শাহু আই মৰমবোৰ পাবা৷
Gharhknonor Grihini Tumiaai Hoba
ঘৰখনৰ গৃহিনী তুমিয়েই হবা৷

The above mentioned lines are an example of ‘Bia Naam’(Marriage Song). The Assamese marriage songs are of immense educational value. The above stated lines are a kind of education, giving to the bride before her marriage. It describes the house-hold activities of a newly married woman in her in-law’s house. This marriage song teaches the bride not to be angry in the house of her in-law. It advises her to get up early in the morning, to have her bath early, to offer a fresh cup of tea to her mother-in-law. It asks her to do other house hold activities in time. That is why Maujumdar (1981) stated in his work that the marriage song plays an important role in educating the Assamese women.

The folk literature reflects the day to day life, the joys and sorrows of the common people. The ‘Bihu-Naam’ is a good source to impart education to the women-folk. It imparts education about love, nature, society, tradition, patriotism, human relation, human culture etc. The following ‘Bihu-Song’ is an example of love and patriotism.

Fulamkoi Gamucha Moiaai Boi Dim/Bihuloi Jaba
ফুলামকৈ গামোচা মইয়ে বৈ দিম/ বিহুলৈ যাবা৷
Patore Tangali Moiaai Boi Dim/Sataru Khediboloi Jaba
পাটেৰে টঙালি মইয়েই বৈ দিম/ শতৰু খেদিবলৈ যাবা৷

This ‘Bihu-Song’ describes the weaving culture of Assamese women. It indicates love of a girl to her man. It has a message of patriotism as well. In the lines the girl says that she is ready to present a flowered towel (Fulam Gamucha) to her man before going to take part in Bihu Festival, and at the same time she is ready to weave a waist-band, made of silk to him before his getting out to taking part in a war to fight against enemy. The above mentioned lines also describe how talented the Assamese girls are.

The Bihu-Songs mainly hint love affairs of young boys and girls. By highlighting the subject of love, the Bihu-Songs portray how Assamese society is involved with natural things. People of Assam have habit of maintaining a fruit in their house campus. That means Assamese people are expert in cultivation and they prepare their food items by themselves.

Aathia Kolore Pat Nkatiba 
আঁঠিয়া কলৰে পাত নাকাটিবা৷
Sitiki Poribo Atha
ছিটিকি পৰিব আঠা৷
Lukoke Dekhuaai Ketera Mariba
লোকেক দেখুৱাই কেটেৰা মাৰিবা৷
Bhitor Neriba Betha
ভিতৰি নেৰিবা বেথা৷

The first two lines describe the attachment of Assamese village people with their fruit/kitchen garden. The last two lines describe the pure love that store in the heart of the lovers.

There are good numbers of ‘proverbs’ in Assamese literature. Proverbs are the spontaneous manifestation f the learned folk-mind. Proverbs impart education on various issues, related to women. The folk-literature have woven man, nature, animal and plant creation  and shows the great flight of imagination and singular development of mind. We, the human beings sometime have primitive thinking in our mind in spite of the advancement of science around us. Even a scientist finds great delight in the fairy tales. The advancement in science can never replace the folk tales. On the other hand, folk-literature has helped the scientific curiosity of man. The following lines state about creation of the world and of the creatures.

Prathome Eswore Sristi Sorojile
প্ৰথমে ঈশ্বৰে শৃষ্টি সৰজিলে৷
Tar Pisot Sorojile Jivo
তাৰ পিছত সৰজিলে জীৱ৷
Henujon Esworei Prithibi Sorojile
হেনোজন ঈশ্বৰে পৃথিৱী সৰজিলে৷

The tales through fantasy make beliefs and credulous acceptance helped the primitive man to satisfy his curiosity about the mysteries of the world and particularly the very many inexplicable phenomena of nature around him. The day to day life of common man finds its full depiction in the folk-literature. Parental love, family happiness, children’s adventurous habits, love and fear of the unknown, greed etc are some of the usual themes of folk-literature.

Some proverbs are directly related to women. They describe the subject of humanity. A mother is always called the best partner of a child. No one can be compared with a mother. There is none in the world who can occupy the place of a mother in the heart of her children. Assamese folk-literature has a good number of proverbs which narrate such matter.

Aair Homan Hobo Kun
আইৰ সমান হব কোন৷
Noir Homan Bobo Kun
নৈৰ সমান বব কোন৷

Here, a mother’s spontaneous love for her children is compared with a river which flows without any interruption. Such proverbs say about the eternal love and affection of a mother.

Assamese proverbs have lots of things, related to the women folk. It tells about the role of a stepmother also. Though there is evidence of good stepmother in the society, yet the character of stepmother is portrayed in a negative manner. The below mentioned proverb is an example.

Mahi Aai Morome
মাহী আইৰ মৰমে৷
Kheror Jui ye Homan
খেৰৰ জুইয়ে সমান৷

There are numbers of proverbs which teach a mother about life related activities. It teaches how to control her children. A child may be spoiled by indulgence. So, being a mother of the child, she is to be aware about it. The following is a good example-

Lai Dile Lora Guse
লাই দিলে লৰা গোচে৷

The Assamese society has its exclusive culture and tradition. It prefers to follow old tradition and custom. Assamese literature has some proverbs which teach to appreciate a good daughter and a good mother-in-low. Assamese people have the notion that if a daughter is good, so also is the son-in-law. If a mother-in-law is good, so also is the daughter-in-law. Following proverb is an example-

Ji Bhalei Juaai Bhal
জী ভালেই জোঁৱাই ভাল৷
Sahu Bhalei Buwari Bhal
শাহু ভালেই বোৱাৰী ভাল৷

Some proverbs speak about the place of a wife in a house. A house cannot be complete without a wife. A wife is the key of the house. Wife is a symbol of affection and affection cannot be complete without love. The following lines are examples-

Bhajya Nahole Kihor Ghar
ভার্যা নহলে কিহৰ ঘৰ৷
Sneh Nohole Kihor Hador
স্নেহ নহলে কিহৰ সাদৰ৷

In Assamese society, a guest is considered as god. A guest, coming to a house specially in the evening hour is said to be the goddess of wealth Laxmi. Some Assamese proverbs have certain views regarding this belief. It is said that a women who does not welcome a guest cannot expect the goddess of wealth Laxmi to live in her house. The following proverb is an example-

Ji Jonir Gharot Atithi Puja Nakore
যি জনীৰ ঘৰত অতিথি পূজা নকৰে৷
Laxmi Nathake Teur Gharot
লখিমী নাথাকে তেওঁৰ ঘৰত৷

Some proverbs highlight the importance of work culture. A woman in a house must have good habits pertaining to work culture. Assamese folk-literature has a lot of proverbs which raise this subject.

Hator Nibo Kanor Nibo
হাতৰ নিব কাণৰ নিব৷
Dahu Anguli Kune Nibo
দহো আঙুলি কোনে নিব৷

The proverb indicates that ornaments of the hands and of the ears may be taken off or robbed. But, the function of the ten fingers can’t be stolen. The lost ornaments may be regained by the work culture of the ten fingers. Some proverbs criticize women who do not have a proper work culture.

Ji Nari Prabhate Nidrat Jai
যি নাৰী প্ৰভাতে নিদ্ৰাত যায়৷
Bahi Hajot Sujyak Pai     
বাহি সাজত সূর্যক পায়৷
Uday Kalot Nilipe Ghar
উদয় কালত নিলিপে ঘৰ৷
Dake Bule Taik Koriba  Hela
ডাকে বোলে তাইক কিৰবা হেলা৷

The lines say that we should avoid such women who sleep late in the morning, who do not see sun rising and who do not clean the house in the early morning.

Folk-literature is often crude and even grotesque. Some proverbs indicate the domination on women in the patriarchal society. The following is an example-

Kotari Dhoraba Sile
কটাৰি ধৰাবা শিলে৷
Tiruta Baba Kile
তিৰোতা বাবা কিলে৷

It means that as knives are to be sharpened on stone, a wife is to be controlled by beating.

Some proverbs seem odd. Such proverbs have an insulting mood.

Maj Murot Nai Suli
মাজ মূৰত নাই ছুলি৷
Hakoloye Mate Rupohi Buli
সকলোৱে মাতে ৰূপহী বুলি৷

A girl having no hair on the centre of her head, is addressed by everyone as beautiful.

5. Policy Implications
Various policies can be adopted to preserve folk literature. There are different ways to spread the value of folk literature.

i) Study of folk literature should be made compulsory in school and college level.
ii) Syllabus should be planned in such a way that students acquire good knowledge on folk literature.
iii) Workshop, seminar should be organized in educational institution so that there held research based discussion.
iv) Social, cultural and literary organizations can hold public discussion about folk literature among students and general people as well.
v)  Different motivational programmes like group discussion, cultural and literary performance, competition etc. can be organized and new generation should be motivated towards such programmes.
vi) Library of educational institution and the public library also must have enough study materials on folk literature. Some folk literatures are not yet preserve in written mood. The literature which is in oral mood should be kept in written mood and preserve in library.
vii) Government should implement scientific and systematic policy so that students and general people also feel interest in folk culture and literature. Both students and people can be made aware to preserve folk literature and culture through such policies.
viii) Folk literature of people of different races, castes, communities and cultures should be translated into our mother tongue.

1. Conclusion
Folk-literature is a vital element in a living culture. But researches in ancient and modern history have been directed in recent decade more to the exploration of political trends. Not much notice has been paid to the culture, complex traditions and social beliefs of the common people. The sociologist should pay a good deal of attention to the customs and beliefs of the people and to changes therein through the ages. They have rather neglected the study of folk-literature. Folk –literature proceeds as an improvised narration which acquires a vivid shape. It creates a dazzling world of fantasy through its own art of narration. The events are told in such a simple interesting way, that though they may be quite absurd, the manner in which these events are narrated immediately catches the listener’s imagination and gently takes him to that world of unreality in a happy, absorbed mood. These stories are coming down from generation to generation.  The secret of the fascination that the folk-literature hold for the old, the young and the very young. The same story is often repeated but does not lose its interest. It is due to the satisfaction that our basic curiosity finds in the folk-literature.

Folk literature occupies a key place in Assamese society. It is rich enough and throws light on the diverse facets of Assamese life and culture. The life style and mother culture of the people of Assamese society have been reflected through folk literature since time immemorial. It has been playing a great role to the Assamese society so far social behavior, social culture and tradition; nature and education of Assamese society are concerned. Through ages, it has been helping in educating the women of Assamese society.

References
  • G. Maujumder. Folk-literature of Bengal. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1981, p.5.
  • L. Gogoi. Asomiya Lok-Sahityar Ruprekha. Dibrugarh: Banalata Publishing House, 2001, pp. 134&142
  • M.L. Chaliha. A Dictionary of Assamese-English Proverbs. 2002.
  • N.C. Sarma. Dak- Prabhachan Aru Dak-Parampara.

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