Symposium suggests documentation of oral literature
KOHIMA, APRIL 9
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] two day Symposium on ‘Naga Oral Literature’, which is a literary program of Sahitya Akademi North East Centre for Oral Literature (NECOL) Agartala, was jointly organized with Nagaland University, Department of Tenyidie from April 4-5, 2014. The Symposium was initiated as a short-cut approach to record and document some laden heritage of Naga Oral Literature- folklore.
Prof. D. Kuolie, Head of Tenyidie Department & Local Coordinator remarked on the opening day that folklore study on an ethnic group is a resourceful academic activity whereas till today, no scholar has taken serious study on Naga oral tradition. In his keynote address, he impressed upon that, “the ground reality is that our school curricula have no such interest; language and literary promotion societies take it in a stereotype attitude; social and personal compulsion to modern education in urban localities; more attention to church activities; diminishing social interaction between the younger and elder groups etc.”The oral stories/poems of the Nagas therefore, are under serious threat, he said, while highlighting that the main objective of the symposium was not only for documenting towards preservation but also for research and development of wider readership through translation and publication in a language having wider communication like English. “At the same time, the activity is extending to enrich Indian literature”, he added.
He also observed that “although oral literature – poetry, song or stories – primarily functions as the source of delight and entertainment to children in particular, it also reflects many valuable contents of ancestral wisdom.” Therefore, he said, they are ‘knowledge imparting, knowledge-sourcing documents and educationally motivating.
In the meantime, he asserted that, “If we look into our present Naga society, we are in a totally new world in terms of religious belief, faith, style of life, practices, mode of profession, outlook, and behavioural approach to future life”, wherein two main factors are evident, namely Christianity and modern education. “The knowledge of our ancestral life has vanished within a span of half a century”, he lamented, while observing that, “we don’t talk of our forefather’s wisdom, identity, morality, honesty and hospitality, religious practices etc.”
Indeed, there are abominable behaviours, detestable practices, he said, but however along with such unwanted cultural practices, he pointed out that the good and valuable heritages are also vanishing fast. He urged that the need of collecting oral literature of the Nagas is our immediate desire and further expressed hope that the common interest in this field of study will save, preserve and revive the eroding values of knowledge of our ancestors.
Pro-Vice Chancellor of Nagaland University, Prof. Lanunungsang Imchen who inaugurated the Symposium noted that at a time when the younger generation are forgetting their own dialects, ‘we have to rethink on how to regain those wisdom from elderly people.’ He also called upon youngsters, researchers, and documentators to collect all those scattered poems, proverbs, folktales, etc used during the past days, which, he added are highly valuable. “Traditional wisdom is not as costly as modern science is”, he further added.
Director of North East Centre of Oral Literature (NECOL), Sahitya Akademi, Agartala, Minakshi Sen Badyopadhyah said that the legendary folk literature of Naga people handed down from generation to generation cannot remain any longer in silence. Stating this in her welcome address, she hoped that the symposium will bring out more insights of Naga literature, contributing to the preservation of folklore which is fast disappearing.
Prof Temsula Ao, Member of NECOL Advisory Committee, Sahitya Akademi chaired the inaugural of the two day symposium while the paper reading sessions were chaired by Prof. A.J Sebastian, SDB, Department of English, Nagaland University, Kohima, Dr. Mimi K.Ezung, Dr. N.Das, Head, Department of English, Nagaland University Kohima and Prof. D. Kuolie, Head, Department of Linguistics & Tenyidie.
Altogether 25 presenters including Kevizonuo Kuolie, Vivolhuno Punyü, Chingang Konyak, Kereivilie Kire, Vishü Rita Krocha, Petekhrienuo, Rosenmenla Longchar, Avinuo Kire, Lungsang Zeliang, Metseilhouthie Mor, Kethokhrienuo Belho, Lemtila, Daili Kholia, Mimi K. Ezung, Keneichanuo Mepfhüo, Ben Lotha, Aokumla, Jano L. Sekhose, Meneno Vamuzo, T. Kithan, Pangersenla, and Ricardo gave presentations on varied folktales and folk poems from across the state including one novel folktale from Australia by Dr. Ricardo S. Gatta.