Understanding of Socio-cultural life through Folk Songs: An Ethnographic Study of Oraon Indigenous people of Chhattisgarh

Authors: Dr. Sukrita Tirkey (School of Anthropology and Tribal Studies, Bastar University, Chhattisgarh, India)
Dr. Piyusa Ranjan Sahoo (Anthropological Survey of India, India)
Speaker: Dr. Sukrita Tirkey
Topic: Ethnographical Language Work
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2022 General Session


Folk songs have an immense connection with the socio-cultural life of tribes in the world. Folk songs are one of the important forms of oral tradition which is transmitted from generation to generation.  The Oraon tribe of Chhattisgarh is one of the best studied examples among the tribes of India. In this modern rapid changing world, still the old generation is very much attached with the beautiful folk songs which reflect the story of the socio-cultural life of the Oraon indigenous people. The Oraon community people speaks the Kudukh language, which is a Dravidian language spoken by nearly two million Oraon people of states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and of India. Some Kudukh speakers are also exist in South India, Nepal, Bangladeh and Bhutan. Kudukh belongs to the Northern Dravidian group of the Dravidian family languages and is closely related to Sauria Pahadia and Kumarbhag Pahadia which are together referred to as Malto. Kudukh is written in Devanagari, a script also used to write Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali and other Indo-Aryan Languages. In 1999, Narayan Oran, a Doctor, invented the alphabetic ‘Tolong Siki’ script specifically for Kudukh. Many books and magazines have been published in Tolong Siki script. This language is marked as being in a “Vulnerable” State in UNESCO’s list of endangered language. The total population of the state (as per census year 2011) is 255.45 lakh. Of these, the scheduled tribes have a population of 32.47 lakh. According to the census of India 2011 figures, the population of Kudukh speaking population is 2.28 million. Oraon is one of the major tribes in Chhattisgarh. Folk songs have important functions among the Oraon tribe of Chhattisgarh. The Oraon folk songs have great connection with the Kudukh language, Oraon Socio-cultural life, livelihood activities such as hunting, gathering and fishing, Life-cycle rituals, Festivals, Socialization process etc. This research paper is an outcome of hard anthropological fieldwork which has focused to understand the Socio-cultural life of Oraon indigenous community through their Kudukh folk songs. The methods and techniques such as Schedules, Observations, case studies, audio-visual recordings etc. were adopted during fieldwork. This rich oral tradition has been deteriorating faster in this modern era due to multiple reasons. In this juncture, the preservation of these Oraon folk songs needs immediate attention as a part of the intangible cultural heritage of Oraon tribe of Chhattisgarh, India.

Keywords: Folk songs, Socio-cultural life, Kudukh, Hunting and fishing, intangible cultural heritage, preservation