Dhere Center


Folk culture is not inferior as compared to elite culture. A conventional belief that folk culture is a’ little tradition’ and elite culture is a ‘great tradition’ in the study of history and culture is absolutely wrong. In fact folk culture is the base of all the expressions of elite culture. This very stance lays the foundation of Dr.Dhere’s writing/research about folk cultures.
He is the first ever researcher to write on the custodians and performers of the folk culture. Though these writings are of introductory nature, they have a certain and definite reference value. He not only collects such references of custodians and performers of the folk culture from ancient Marathi literature, but also connects it with broad cultural references. He explains their contribution in the formation of cultural life of Maharashtra along with ascertaining their place in today’s social life.
Nature and religious form of folk deities like Mariaai, Jotiba, Lakhubai, Bhairav, Yakshadeva, Balgraha,saati aasras is the research area of Dr. Dhere. He searches how the aboriginal form of many gods of elites is actually interconnected to deities in folk culture. He also explains how the cross-over and unification of both types of deities took place or how any folk deity got exalted into gods of the elites.
To reveal nature of Shri Krishna as a folk deity, to unravel the relation between Nag and Narsoba, to drag the attention towards the mystery of Rajmath, to study the quotes of “Sahadev-Bhadali”, to explain cultural background of Gondhali- Dr. Dhere’s writings with reference to the folk culture are important. It is done with a keen eye on the complex and complicated nature of cultural issues.
Dr. Dhere has minutely examined the world of deities in folk culture- which is different from the pantheon of ancient Vedic deities in many ways. His book ‘Khandoba’ is important in this context. Basically it is a deity of shepherds. Transformations occurred in its status and prestige, support of royal dynasties to its worship and attempt to give him Vedic basis by exaltation- Dr. Dhere explores all this acutely.
He also unravels original folk oriented form of Lord Vitthal, the famous god in Maharashtra, as a ‘lord of cowherds’. His views on evil and inauspicious gods are also important. He repeatedly states importance of folk presumption in the study of cultural history, with many examples. He states that folk conducts and various expressions of folk believe are important instrument of folk culture.
He considers folk festivity, rituals, customs and beliefs as instruments of study of folk culture along with cenotaphs, stoned memorial of Sati, folk dance, drama, songs, and musical instruments. There are many examples of this in many of his research volumes. His angle of looking at certain conventions or traditions which one may feel apparently vulgar or obscene is also worth noting. A singular example to highlight this point is his writings and findings about ‘Gadhe gal’-a battery of expletives and the worst curses in Marathi.
Consider his book ‘Look at folk deities’. (Lok Daivatanche Vishwa) It explains how to use folk cultural references to unravel our social-cultural traditions. Dr. Dhere proves successfully how study of folk culture is useful for the better understanding of study of history. He explains importance of study of folk culture with reference to the urban culture. He expands horizons of research areas. He throws new light on various important and minor resources and also uses them very properly.
He expands horizons of expanse of folk culture up to the religious history, social history, archeology, theogony, languages, etymology and etymological analysis. Etymological analysis of Mhalasa (Khandoba) Gondhal, Vitthal (Shri Vitthal: EK Mahasamnvay) are important in this context.
Dr. Dhere also explains how identity of masses is reflected in folk culture in his various books.
In short, instead of following typical research methods, Dr. Dhere synchronizes various faculties of knowledge and develops his own research methods and give new direction to study of folk culture in Marathi.
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