By N.V. DAVIES
Ignored by organizations and authorities concerned so far, a major part of the treasure of traditional folk knowledge that the past generations of Kerala had been practicing in their life has been lost for ever. Still, with serious efforts, we have the opportunity to preserve whatever remains of this time -tested indigenous knowledge.
Locating these individuals who inherited the wisdom of yore and making them speak out for documentation are tasks that cannot be undertaken without devotion and commitment. And the Centre for Folklore Studies at Kanimangalam, near here, is doing yeoman's service in this regard.
The CFS established in 1995 as a charitable society is a body of a group of researchers and enthusiasts of folk life, customs and oral traditions. The principal aim of the organization is to document the endangered treasure of indigenous knowledge, conduct research in folk life and link its relevance for sustainable development in future so as to develop their creative forms, says Dr. C.R. Rajagopalan, one of the directors, who has been devoting quite a lote of his time for the activities of CFS right from its inception.
The CFS has developed a system of collecting the local knowledge for documentation through sharing the knowledge. Extensive questionnaire is prepared on different subjects and field workers move to the village in search of informers and induce them through discussions to recall the wisdom they had inherited from their forefathers. Subsequently, an informal meeting of all the informers in a village is organized where they are asked to represent their knowledge for documentation. Under this method, data for the past two to three centuries is collected by activating the memories of the informers, pointed out Rajagopalan.
The knowledge and data thus collected are published in the quarterly of CFS-Keraleeyathayude Nattarivu. So far the quarterly has published folk knowledge on various subjects, including tribal law, culture, seed law, folk knowledge on women, mapila folklore, folk architecture, village theatre, traditional knowledge on food, folk painting and monographs, coconut cultivation and 'krishi geeta' containing information on various seeds, cattle, local knowledge on monsoon, etc.
The organization had also undertaken voluntary work for other research institutions, panchayati raj institutions etc. Preserving the folk art and traditional instruments is done by staging programmes in the State by the CFS ethnomusic group of 15 members.