Sunday, November 11, 2007

While I was working on this series of the Song of Songs, I was also becoming very much aware of the tribal cultures of India, and thinking about the story known as the Karam Kahani, in the tribal belt known as Jharkhand (the land of trees) between Orissa and Bihar. In this story we also find this tension between a life based on a forest economy, and the emerging city centre which is characterized by the City of Light, or Kasi (also known as Varanasi) on the holy river Ganges, west of the Tribal region.

The narrative of the search is the interplay between city and rural economies, in which the human community is drawn in what seems opposite poles—towards increasing urbanization on the one hand, and a sense of the vital forces that inhabit the forest groves. The Karam Tree, and Karam Festival reminds the people that the true wealth of wisdom is not to be found ultimately in the man made structures of the market town, but rather in the God-given natural symbols that lie embedded in the countryside.

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