Nirmala Putul: A Santal poet questioning ‘development’ and ‘progress’ in modern civilization

Mountain Child by Nirmala Putul

The mountain child —
a fragment of the mountain —
plays in the lap of the mountain

Toddling up the mountain
he plants his feet in the mountain soil
to rise like a mountain
in the land of mountains

The whole mountain
lives inside the mountain child
And in the lap of the mountain
lives the scurrying mountain child

The mountain child sees
a plane flying over the mountain
And he asks his father —
What is that bird?

Source: Mountain Child by Nirmala Putul – Poems – Poetry Translation Centre
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Date Visited: 28 July 2020

Nirmala Putul

Is a poet from India who writes in Hindi.

Nirmala Putul was born in 1972, in a Santhali Adivasi (tribal) family. She writes in the Indian tribal language, Santali. She has a diploma in nursing. A collection of her poems Nagare Ki Tarah Bajte Hain Shabad (Words resound like drums) was published in 2004.

Nirmala Putul counterpoises her tribal world with the ‘developed’ modern world. Her poetry questions the whole notion of ‘development’ and ‘progress’ in modern civilization. Her poetry is very musical and full of nature imagery. There is an echo of tribal songs in her work.

Source: Poet Nirmala Putul – Poetry Translation Centre
Address :
Date Visited: 28 July 2020

Read more by Nirmala Putul’s on the Indian poetry website >>

[M]any issues relating to tribals have been raised by non-tribal, upper caste Hindu writers and activists like Mahasweta Devi, Nandini Sundar, Ganesh [GN] Devy. Some educated tribal writers from the North Eastern states have recently managed to enter the national discourse (such as Temsula Ao who writes in English and used to teach at NEHU Shillong) but most tribals from eastern, central and southern India still lag behind in education. Hence, writers from these areas use languages that are inaccessible to the mainstream. The well-known Santal poet from Jharkhand, Nirmala Putul, started writing in Santali and remained unknown until she was translated into Hindi by Ashok Singh (an upper caste Hindu scholar). Similarly, the south Indian tribal writers, Narayan and CK Janu, were also unknown until they were translated into English by upper caste Hindu scholars. […]

I still support writings and translations by non-tribal scholars since they do manage to being some visibility to tribal issues. […]

This has to be a collective effort and will take many years. I also know many non-tribal people who are sincerely interested in helping the tribals so I think their contributions should be accepted and acknowledged.

Source: courtesy Dr. Ivy Hansdak (email 20 October 2020)

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Audio | Santali Traditional and Fusion Songs: Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust



Education and literacy

eBook | Free catalogue: Banam: One of the ancient musical instruments of the Santals

eBook | Free catalogue: Museum of Santal Culture (Bishnubati) – West Bengal

eBook | “Santals Celebrate the Seasons”: Creativity fostered by Ashadullapur Gramin Silpa & Sastha Bidhan Kendra – West Bengal

eJournal | Writing and teaching Santali in different alphabets: A success story calling for a stronger sense of self-confidence

eLearning | “National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other”: Droupadi Murmu – 15th President of India

Homes and utensils

Indigenous knowledge systems

Multi-lingual education

Museum of Santal Culture Bishnubati

Santal | Santal Parganas | The Santals by Boro Baski | Santal music

Santal democratic organisations, customs, history and creation traditions (book tip)

Santali language | eBook | A Santali-English dictionary –

Santal mission | Santal Parganas

Santali translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s “Vidyasagar-Charit” and “Raktakarabi”

Santali script – Ol Chiki

Seasons and festivals

Teaching Santal children by Boro Baski

Traditional music instruments of the Santals at the Museum of Santal Culture

Video | Roots and Branches: The Lifeworld of an Enlightened Villager in West Bengal

Video | Santali video album “Ale Ato” (Our Village, Part 1 of 2) – West Bengal

Video & eLearning | “Cadence and Counterpoint: Documenting Santal Musical Traditions” – A virtual exhibition on Google Cultural Institute