Rediscovering folklore and tradition

Folkloristics course at an Estonia University gave Assam boy Theang Teron a better understanding of his ethnicity

A passion for folklore runs in the DNA of Assam boy Theang Teron, who is currently pursuing MA Folkloristics at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Hailing from the hills of Karbi Anglong where his father is an independent scholar and mother is a government personnel, this Sociology graduate from Delhi’s Hindu College decided to give Folkloristics a shot without much inkling as to what Estonia was like and the discipline he chose.

“I was actively involved with performing live music and recording both metal and folk music soon after my graduation. While composing Karbi folk songs with my band, it became clear that I needed to learn more about the discipline to enhance my knowledge and application in the field. Since Karbi is basically an oral culture (where folktales, ballads etc. are transmitted through speech and songs), its music brought me back to my roots,” adds the 28-year-old.

The discipline, he says, trains students to become well versed in scholarly approaches to folk culture and use their expertise creatively in academia and beyond. “Since the cultural aspects of my own community is fast vanishing due to rapid modernisation, I hope to do my bit to document its oral culture and bring it to the world.”

His department also allows students the opportunity to participate in seminars and conferences and undertake internships offered by state museums and cultural sites.

Language, says Theong, is hardly much of an issue. “Since most people speak in English, it is relatively easy to navigate. People interact through body language and facial expressions as well.”

While pursuing academics, he got a job as an assistant in a café that boosted his confidence. “The varsity has a site that keeps the students updated with jobs and internship opportunities.”

While he has not structured any future plan, Theong would like to carry forward his musical pursuit. “I want to finish my MA in Folkloristics and then do a PhD to continue my work as a researcher in vernacular studies.”

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