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Asle- India


Sohrai is an art form unique to the Hazaribag plateau of north chotanagpur in  Jharkhand state of India. It is a traditional. Ritualistic painting practiced by certain tribal communities of the region, especially in the north karnapura valley, now facing an imminent onslaught of open cast coal mining and a thermal power plant. By force of tradition the paintings are made only by married women, called ‘ Devi; meaning ‘ goddess’ on the walls of the homes of the tribal people and are linked with the cycle of seasons .

The paintings are made by applying a layer of a mixture of cow dung and mud upon walls over which another layer of black earth is coated. As required. Layers of white or yellow soil make the third layer on which the motifs are cut with broken combs. The resulting two-dimensional murals are breathtaking in their simplicity and beauty and underline the instinctive ability of complex symbolism in human beings in all their environs.
These paintings are also echoed in the traditional oral literature of the communities. Many of the fable like stories orated by the women and the elder’s exhibit a natural and spontaneous communication between the human world, and the non-human world of nature, featuring an exchange of sensibilities even between animate and inanimate regimes for sustenance of life from the endowments of the earth. Which, however, are not inexhaustible.

Such a relationship between various art forms, including literature, is a common attribute of the peoples drawing ergon from nature in its various aspects. The literature of khortha, a language spoken by the local inhabitants of Hazaribag and the adjoining areas, is rich in such symbolism through its unconscious morphing of the human and the non-human world. While the traditional tales build a rich and virile image of luxuriant and generous nature, the tales of our contemporary times reflect with fidelity the decay that has set in the human endeavour leading to corrosion of the non-human natural world

The pressure of materialism has also begun to wedge changes in the sohrai art form which, in a way, augurs well for it. Though purists frown upon the replication of the sohrai paintings on framed cloth pieces for sale, the activity has introduced diversity, inventiveness and economic independence for the women artists who make these paintings.
RAJESH KUMAR Reader. Dept. of English,
Vinoba Bhave university, Hazaribag – 825 301
(Jharkhand). Secretary, ASLE India
[Photograph: courtesy. S. Jaipuriar, director Marksman Welfare society, Hazaribag, Artist: Rukmini Devi]




The European Association for the study of Literature, culture and Environment / Europaische Gesellschaft fur das stadium von Literature, Kultur and umwelt – EASLCE – has announced its second Biennial conference in Klagenfurt, Austria from April 28- May 1 2006 . The theme of the conference is: Water: Literary, cultural and Environmental perspectives

The European Association for the study of Literature, Culture and Environ-ment     
 (EASCLE) invites contributions to its second biennial conference to be held at the Alps- Adriatic University of Klagenfurt in Klagenfurt, Austria. Taking as our theme “Water: Literary, cultural and Environmental perspectives “we seek proposals for  papers ( 15 – minute presentation time ), themed sessions ( comprising 3-4 papers ) roundtables
(Discussion sessions) poster sessions, workshops and performances that explore the relations between language / literature / culture and water we welcome interdisciplinary approaches and readings of environmentally oriented creative nonfiction and poetry.

The global importance of water as a precious resource essential to our lives was recognized in the United Nations “water for life” Decade for Action launced in March, 2005, and the preservation and management of water and wetlands are likely to have increasingly important political and social implications in the future. The conference theme has been chosen for its general relevance to all Humanities disciplines. we  hope it will also attract the interest of colleagues from disciplines outside the Humanities who adhere to the environmental philosophy that all organisms share the biosphere and need to learn to live together in order to ensure a stable sustainable future we envision the participation of scholars and practitioners in


ecologically oriented literary and cultural studies
philosophy, history, psychology and linguistics
cultural geography and natural history
law and policy studies
environmental studies
water and plant sciences
the visual and performing arts

Proposals are especially encouraged, on but not limited to, the following topics:

 water in the literature and cultural imaginary of European
 and other nations the semiotics of water representation: lite
rature, film and other media

water and genre: nature writing and the representation of
moving/ still / coastal waters

the rhetoric of water in science, law business and other
 discourses outside the Humanities
environmental issues concerning European and
 international waterways and water use

environmental justice activism concerning water

water ecology and tourism issues

ecofeminist approaches to water issues

teaching the literature and culture of water



For further details : see EASLCE website




Vaigai Selvi
AT A TRAFFIC JUNCTION (translated form the original Tamil by the poet)

The sun-wheel rotates relentlessly.
Blistering heat.
At the traffic junction
on an old scooter.

Wedged on all sides… Suffocation
Crowded bus from which
expressionless faces spit on the road.
And the horns blare….

Inhaling black fumes I wait, I wait
wiping burning eyes
All of a sudden
a man
manoeuvres his bike behind me
with his fat wife behind him.

I open my mouth to yell at him.
Just then
a tiny hand
From behind the fat mom’s shoulder
waves at me.

In spite of my self
I calm down.


The Lost Woods of Childhood


After nearly half an hour had gone by, my grandfather’s long sled was full and he called me back to his seat. As we rode away I looked back as long as I could see the trees, watching to the last this gloomy wood, under its gloomy sky which had mad such a profound impression on me. All the way home I was silent, busy with my own speculations

Thirty-years later, I spent one whole summer’s day driving my car over dirt roads of the regions, searching for the old remembered woods. But I never found it perhaps I took the wrong turn. Perhaps the woods had been felled and the land turned into cultivated fields. Perhaps I failed to recognize the wooded tract as seen through the eyes of a small boy. I know that as I drove about, the great distances of childhood had greatly shrunk. How soon I came to the corners! How much smaller were the trees than I remembered them! How much low the hills! Time seemed to have dwarfed the towering bums of boyhood and to have reduced the size of cornfields and pastures. At any rate I never saw the ancient trees of that old woodland a second time. The lost woods of childhood remained lost forever.


One-Day Seminar- A Report

A one day seminar was held at the local Annada College, Hazaribag, on 15th December,2005, to discuss the new semantics, emerging in nature readings and writings through four centuries of modern English poetry. Dr. Rajesh Kumar, Head, University Dept. of English,V.B.U., as chief speaker on the occasion, pointed out the relevance of the triad of instinct, nature dormants in cultural memories of literature, and man as default custodian of ecological consciousness. Other participants included Dr. R.P sinha. Head, Dept of English, Annada College, and pakaj Mitra, an eminent story writer. The interactive session discussed various issues like the role of literature in preservation of the ecological sensibility, activism, social substantiation of nature myths and poetry as extension of existence.
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