Study and Documentation of Endangered Languages
With the support of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, as a ‘Centre of Excellence’, Bhasha has taken up study and documentation of Endangered Languages of India. across the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. During 2018-19, the following languages were identified and documented in western India:
Vadi, Halpati and Dungra Bhili in Gujarat; Nahal and Sehriya in Rajasthan; Thali, Dhati and Dhavadi in Maharashta
This year, Bhasha is exploring the vulnerability state of Karnataka’s languages and continuing its study of endangered languages in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Adding to its repertoire of Adivasi music, Bhasha is documenting the Adivasi music of Sikkim during 2019-20.
Bhasha has undertaken a study of the Traditional Life-Skills, Skills in Transition and Potential Livelihood Opportunities among Adivasi Communities of Narmada District, Gujarat.
Scholar and folklorist, Dr. Bhagwandas Patel, spent his entire lifetime documenting the epics, legends, stories and songs of the Dungri Bhil and Garasia Bhil communities in Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts in north Gujarat. Bhasha is digitising the original audio recordings of his entire body of oral documentation.
Bhasha is adding more languages to its collection of audio recordings of India languages at the Bhasha Van. Presently having 70 language recordings, the Bhasha Van’s sound archives will add 80 more languages and make them available on tablets for visitors on their Van visit.
Preparation of Pictorial Glossaries in Tadvi and Bareli languages
Taking forward its Pictorial Glossary series, Bhasha is presently preparing glossaries in Tadvi and Bareli languages. While Bareli is spoken in Hafeshwar village of Kanwant taluka as well as in the Bakhatgarh area of Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh, Tadvi is spoken in Chhotaudepur, Sankheda, Pavijetpur, Naswadi and Tilakwada areas of Chhotaudepur district. Prepared with contribution by Bareli and Tadvi speakers and feedback from government school teachers, Bhasha will conduct Orientation Programmes for local teachers in the use of the glossaries in schools.
Revitalisation of Kasota Weave
The Vankar community of Chhotaudepur district traditionally used to weave the beautiful kasota fabric that was used as loin cloth or langot in the region. Over the years, as the langot is replaced by trousers, the weave has languished and is now used only during the death ritual to cover the body. Presently, only two weavers continue to practice it in Gujarat and a few more in neighbouring Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh. Bhasha is presently exploring ways to innovatively revitalise the kasota weave to revive the textile tradition and make it sustainable.
Traditional Bead jewellery
Bead jewellery is a traditional craft of the women of the Rathwa Adivasi community of Chhotaudepur district of Gujarat. In recent decades, the traditional beads have been replaced by the shiny, plastic ones that are woven into popular market designs. Bhasha has been encouraging the craft among the Rathwa women lest it dies down. In recent months, Bhasha has availed of the old kinds of bead from Ahmedabad and sourced the old designs from photographs in the collection of eminent artist, Prof. Jyoti Bhatt. With the help of computer technology, Bhasha now endeavours to set design patterns on 3D. The women artists have responded very encouragingly and are going back to their original bead making patterns. In years to come, we hope that the Rathwa bead jewellery will stand on its own and make a distinct space for itself!
The Adivasi Academy has taken to cultivate organic indigo at a plot of land in ** village near the campus. Indigo natural dyes have been replaced by synthetic ones and this is an initiative to increase supplementary sources of income for local farmers as well as to promote traditional indigo farming. Once the pilot is set up and linkages with indigo buyers is established, indigo farming will be further promoted among the local farmers.
This academic year, Vasantshala has 59 children in the age group of * . They belong to villages around Tejgadh in the Chhotaudepur district. During the year they will be brought to age-appropriate learning levels and enrolled to local government schools in June 2020.
Bhasha/Adivasi Academy is part of the six-month ‘Certificate Program in Rural Livelihoods’ being offered jointly by the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation, Delhi and Indian Institute of Health Management Research, Jaipur. Open for Adivasi youth between 18 to 40 years of age, the course seeks to meet the challenge of scarce trained human resource in the central tribal belt of India. Bhasha is one of the several organisations imparting training to the trainees. This year, a batch of 30 trainees participated in a three-day Course on ‘Course on Tribal Identities and History ‘conducted at the Adivasi Academy from 9-12 October 2018. The next batch of trainees will visit Tejgadh on 2-3-4 January 2020.
The Adivasi Academy has entered into an year-long research association with Dr. Eva Romero, a Spanish neuro-scientist on her project, ‘Looking at the brain through the eyes of the Adivasi artist’. Inspired by Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934), the first Spanish neuroscientist to receive a Nobel Prize, the project combines neuroscience with art. The study will involve workshops conducted by Dr. Romero with Warli, Gondi and Rathwa artists to explore how the artists can depict neural networks in their art. During her first two workshops held in July and October 2018, she introduced basic concepts of neuroscience to the artists and conducted sample observation sessions on microscope of slices brains of rat, mice and cat provided by the Cajal Institute of Madrid. The participating artists have responded very enthusiastically and prepared their traditional Gondi and Rathwi painting but now depicting neuron networks! Dr. Romero believes that looking at the brain through the eyes of tribal artists will help in understanding the relationship between art and neuroscience that is so often ignored due to the complex nature of the subject. Read More
Volunteer Interns from Germany
Since 2017, the organisation, VIA e.V. – Verein für Internationalen und interkulturellen Austausch in Berlin, Deutschland, Germany, has been sending volunteer interns who have completed their schooling and wish to gain organisational experience before going for university education. In 2017-18, Johanna Hammerl and Florian Bötsch and in 2018-19, Dominique Sauer and Marie Fritsch spent an year each at the Adivasi Academy working with the Library and Musuem and teaching English, sports and other co-curricular activities with the Vasantshala children. This year we have Clara Helfrich and Marcel Díaz Laier who just joined from September 2019. Marcel has finished secondary school from south of Chile and has experience of working with a project on improving conditions in Chilean and Latin American slums. Born in El Salvador, Clara decided to come to India after completing her secondary education. While Marcel was drawn to India’s cultural diversity, Clara’s love for languages and the fact that she has witnessed the extermination of the indigenous communities and their language, Nahuatl, back home, drew her to Bhasha. Bhasha looks forward to having a wonderful time learning from them this year!
Mahuida Diaz Laier, a student of Anthropology at the University "Freie Universität Berlin", is volunteering with Bhasha from October 2019 to January 2020. Keen to study the challenges facing indigenous communities across the globe and understand the approaches towards these communities, Mahuida joined her brother Marcel for this short period to understand Bhasha’s work with Adivasi communities in India.