Assam Governor bats for documenting oral cultural traditions

Guwahati hosts first of its kind seminar to document living traditions in transition from one generation to other by mouth to mouth

Guv inaugurates NW 1

3 min read

Assam Governor Prof Jagadish Mukhi on Monday said the North-east is a treasure trove of oral culture which is unparalleled and unique in nature.

One of the chief characteristics of this region is its rich oral culture and most of the communities in this region are predominantly oral in their social transactions,” said Prof Mukhi while inaugurating the seven-day national workshop on ‘Documenting Oral Cultural Traditions of North-east India’ at National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in Guwahati on Monday.

Sharing his thoughts on the theme of the workshop, the Governor said, “North-eastern region of India embraces great demographic diversities since time immemorial which form a crucial link between the two great civilizations of India and China. It is a microcosm of India in terms of sheer diversity. It is a meeting point of different racial and linguistic groups. The hills are predominantly inhabited by the Tibeto-Burman speakers baring the larger part of Meghalaya which is Austro-Asiatic in speech practice. The Brahmaputra and Surma Valley is predominantly Indo-Aryan in speech practices.”

One of the chief characteristics of this region is its richness in oral culture. Several communities of the region are predominantly oral in their social transactions.

Even in the valley areas, where literacy made inroads due to state formation, literary pursuits were only concentrated around the royal court as usual.  Large sections of the people remained oral in their cultural transactions as well.

This predominant mode of social transaction is the root for the birth of various traditions in forms of myths, legends, ballads, riddles, folklore etc.  These traditions were circulated from mouth to mouth and generations to generations before some of them got textualized.

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Governor Prof Mukhi also stressed on the importance of documenting these traditions as they constitute vast pool of cultural knowledge of these communities.

Besides, they also contain social memory in different shades as they form a part of mnemonic traditions of these societies. Their study and interpretations may reveal many unknown events of the pasts related to these communities, he said.

The workshop which is organized by the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIAS), Kolkata, an international research organization under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India in collaboration with Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), New Delhi, is first of its kind to document the living traditions which have been in transition from one generation to other by mouth to mouth which has not been articulated or documented historically.


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