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God of Humans’:Dina-Bhadri, Dalit Folktales and Environmental Movements

Published in Taylor & Francis Online
Volume: 12
Issue: 1

Dalit folktales are an important part of Indian folkloristic categories. They have existed since long, often in a complex relationship with the dominant culture. The development of Dalit cultural, political and public spheres in the recent past has galvanized a dynamic Dalit system of organization of folktales in performances, festivals and protests, leading to a diffusion of its contents and forms, and intimate connections with everyday life of the community. The folktale has also increasingly become an expression of Dalits’ environmental risks, conflicts and rights. Its mythical characters have been transformed into symbols of ecological ancestors with immense physical, natural and spiritual skills, who have the courage to liberate the community from oppressive ecological and social systems. Drawing on the folktale of two Musahar brothers, Dina and Bhadri, widely circulated in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of India and Nepal, the article sheds light on how folk traditions work within Dalit and other marginalized groups in South Asia. It particularly focuses on how folklore has become a way for Dalits to assert their environmental rights through their own motifs, everyday memories, and ecological ancestors. Based on extensive fieldwork in the North Indian River Plains, the article highlights this new phenomenon of ecological symbolism of Dalit folklore.

About the journal
JournalSouth Asian History and Culture
PublisherTaylor & Francis Online
Open AccessYes