Residence: Austin, TX
Date of Performance/Collection: March 14, 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi
Text: RB: Okay, so it goes like this. It’s in Hindi by the way. Okay, so it goes,
“lakadi ki kaathi kaathi pe ghoda
ghode ki dum pe jo maara hathauda
dauda dauda dauda ghoda dum utha ke dauda”
AT: What does that translate to?
RB: So what it means is that there’s a cart made of sticks, yeah, the cart is made of sticks. The cart is attached to a horse and someone hits the horse’s behind. And the horse runs. And he just runs with a lot of might. Like very fast, that’s it.
AT: Okay, is that supposed to have a special meaning or something? Who taught it to you?
RB: (laughing) I don’t know. I don’t think so, I think it’s a children’s rhyme literally just because everything rhymes.
Context: RB is an Indian-American who lived in India during her pre-school years. She practices Jainism, one of the lesser-known religions of India. She frequently visits returns to India to visit relatives and continues to practice her faith and India’s festivals with other Indian-Americans in Texas. She learned the children’s rhyme above from her parents, and it frequently gets stuck in her head. This interaction took place in a living room while we were both home for spring break.
Interpretation: This children’s rhyme, according to RB, has little in terms of a moral lesson. Other than teaching cause and effect, the rhyme doesn’t seem to go beyond the surface level of singing about a horse riding around and around and around. However, RB bright up the fact that everything happens to rhyme perfectly in this song, suggesting that the song may be the way that it is simply because of its rhyming characteristics. This is not unlike some rhymes in english whose structure and word choice are what makes it beneficial to children, not it’s storyline. For example, “Sally sells seashells by the sea shore” isn’t meant to teach people about the dedication of small businesses. Rather, it exists to help children navigate the difficult world of language, achieving a level of mastery with the help of a friendly rhyme.
Most folklore specifically associated with children has to do with teaching some sort of lesson. In this way, the rhyming function is used to help engage children in confusing syntax and diction to help them better understand their language, still teaching them something, just not a message of morality derived from a tale.