Folk Tales of Gujarat (and Jhaverchand Meghani)

by Vandana P. Soni | 2014 | 98,532 words

This study represents an English translation of the Gujarat Folk tales composed by Gujarati poet Jhaverchand Meghani (1896-1947). Meghani was born in Chotila and left an important landmark on the history of Saurashtra and Gujarat folklore, Indian poetry, journalism and other literary sciences....


Reading these folktales which are a part of folklore, it becomes evident that human beings have a deep connection with the world of folkore. It is an integral part of human life. This heritage of folklore naturally passes from one generation to another. Folklore is significant in human life because it ties the cultural, social, religious and psychological worlds of human beings into one package becoming one variegated fluid continuum called human life. An analysis of the present folktales reveals the determining significance in human life they hold up, e.g., the folktales of Kankavati are religious in nature because they are all vrat kathas sprung from the ordinary day-to-day human cycle of life independent of, and sometimes deviating from the scriptures. They are part of the rituals and practices as marriage, baby shower, baptisms, the harvest and death and are not merely religious acts but they reflect the lived life of people in rural and urban societies. The anthologies of Dadaji Ni Vato and Rang Chhe Barot are pragmatic with practical and the estoteric wisdom. By taking readers on the wings of imagination in adventurous lands they indirectly teach the present generation that though miseries may fall upon one, hurdles may obstruct one’s path, but a determined fearless approach to adversities would bring accolades and achievement in the end. These stories facilitate readers with the knowledge of 14 skills and indirectly impart the message that ‘Knowledge is Power’. Sorathi Baharvatiya gives scope to peep into the psyche of the outlaws who looted but were not barbaric but had their own code of ethics which they followed strictly. Saurashtra Ni Rasdhar is a collection of love legends and depicts every shade of love and love is the main emotion which makes human world beautiful because it calls forth patience, responsibility, sense of commitment and dedication.

As it is mentioned in the introduction, the present research endeavours to understand the magnificient cultural and traditional values of Gujarat through translation and evaluation of Meghani’s untranslated folktales. The study of Gujarati culture through folktale makes obvious that the cultural heritage of Gujarat is rich, vibrant and highlights the need to preserve it. Meghani’s mission behind excavation of folktales of Gujarat was to tell the world that Gujarat has a rich folklore full of stories of wit, wisdom, morals and ethics. Through his collection and publication of folktales of Gujarat Meghani wanted to manifest to people of the world about Gujarat’s sagas of sheer bravery, ethics of outlaws, heartrending love-stories, lilting rasballads, frescoes on the walls and floors, artistic décor of their lodgings, their embroderied costumes, and heroic chhand and duhas.The fragrance that had been constantly replenishing the folklore of Gujarat with freshness is alas no more. The lustre is covered by a layer of dust. At present in Gujarat in various varsities many research scholars are endeavoring to draw attention of the people towards Gujarat’s heritage through publication and research on Gujarati folklore. The present research is also an attempt to give view of cultural heritage of Gujarat through Gujarati folklore. Jhaverchand Meghani did path breaking work in exploring Gujarati folklore. To know Gujarati culture means to understand folklore of Meghani. The study of English literature cannot be complete without the study of Shakespear’s drama; dialogue over western criticism is imperfect without the discussion of Aristotle’s Poetics, furthermore, to understand Sanskrit literature, understanding of Kalidas’s drama is a must; similarly in order to get glimpses of Gujarati culture, study of Meghani’s works is quintessential because he was a trailblazer in exploring the vast unexplored heritage of Gujarati folklore. His folktales mirrors milieu of Gujarat, dialects, duhas, decors, humane values, sense of sacrifice and spirit of adventure, enthusiasm and, of course, the flaws in people. Everywhere the realization to save cultural heritage is becoming stronger day by day because cultural and social heritage is the axis of any society. Gujarat Secondary Educational Board has made teaching of Meghani’s works mandatory, even in the entrance test of UPSC Civil Services the anthology of folktale titled Saurashta Ni Rasdhar by Meghani has been included, and in Gujarat University the syllabus of UG BA (English) SEM 1-VI 2014-2015 covers Meghani’s works. The efforts to facilitate others with the knowledge of Gujarati culture are going on but still the efforts are limited to Gujarat; Meghani’s folklores are classics of Gujarati literature and it is the need to make classsics of all Indian vernacular literature accesible to the world by translanting them in an international language English.

Another motive behind the selection of Gujarati folktales of Meghani was to curb dying dialects of Gujarat. India is celebrated for its rich linguistic diversity the PLSI project (People’s linguistic survey of India) that began in 2010 under the leadership of Prof. Ganesh Devy for the preservation of linguistic diversity has mentioned in its survey that India has 700 living languages, and each language is in itself a cultural storehouse. It is necessary to retain such a diverse culture, if a language dies then it is not merely an extinction of language but there is an end of the whole culture, history and knowledge archives of the speakers. In Meghani’s works there is profuse use of Mer language, Charni language and dialectial idioms which may vanish with the passage of time. It is necessary to protect these languages by translating and circulating the creations of Meghani among the people of the world through worldly accepted languages.

To sum up, the research work has attempted as purpoted in the introduction to unfold the valuable cultural inheritance of Gujarat. Meghani’s folktales are verbal miniature of Gujarati culture. By this work on the folktales of Meghani the attempt is to give strength to research works that are going on to acquaint the present generation with the mottled and venerable cultural legacy of Gujarat that might otherwise remain neglected and sink into oblivion.

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