|Folk traditions are the indices of the
culture of any community or country. The folk tradition in India is among the oldest and
richest in the world and has managed to retain most of its distinctive features over the
centuries, despite the changing environment. Folk culture includes a vast range of art
forms such as folk music, dance, literature, tales, proverbs and theatre. Classical arts,
without doubt, have been significantly influence by these folk arts. Carnatic music or
Bharatanatyam or any other classical music or dance form in India are no exceptions.
The unique feature of folk arts, as opposed to classical arts, is that it involved a more casual approach, in the sense that it wasn't performed for professional considerations. The emphasis was on the feeling of belonging in the community, unity and enjoyment. The music and dance were more instinctive than technical because they came from the heart than from the mind. However, changing trends have led to folk arts being performed at a professional level too. This is also because, unlike a few decades ago when it was confined to the rural areas, several individuals, institutions and organisations have, in recent times, started making attempts to understand and popularise these art forms among the urban class. This is definitely a welcome trend.
The wonderful thing about folk tradition is that there are songs and dance for every activity, just as there are a number of instruments. These instruments range from kitchen utensils to flutes to you-name-it. Their basic feature is their simple construction and adaptability. The music and dance forms themselves cover a gamut of themes ranging from elementary philosophy to romance to religion to devotion to emotion - basically an expression of whatever man experiences in his life.
This section will focus on the different folk arts of India that have influenced the rich and classical music and dance heritage.