The different forms of folk narration include songs, ballads, fables, erotica, romance and epics. Kannada literature in the 12th century began undertaking some important changes like speaking and singing folk songs while some still used the champu form of writing till the 17th century. The Gajashtaka composition is said to be the foundation for two popular folklore, ovanige and onakevadu, and were sung by people while they were pounding corn or trying to lure elephants to enter a pit.
At the turn of the century many changes began taking place in Kannada folklore where acclaimed lyricists began experimenting with native folks and literary classic English folk songs. With Christian missionaries entering India to spread the gospels, many relied on the local language to get their message across. British officers Benjamin L. Rice and J. H. Fleet published vital surviving literary classics and folk songs.
The oral tradition of hand to mouth is known to be much richer and meaningful in Indian languages compared to the written word. The famous epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana were originally much shorter in form and were passed on orally and preserved in their original form for a very long time. Indian epics can be seen as representing different diverse groups of India and its great traditions. Since the caste system has always played a dominant role among India's people from an early age, various traditions, folk songs and epics have co-existed uneasily against each other.
Kannada folk song heroes often comprised of common people who were always from the lower castes, such as goatherds, cobblers, cowherds as well as people from scheduled castes. Famous folk artists include Yashwanth Halbandi and Ratnamala Prakash. Kerala's Khatakali form of folk has influenced Yakshagana which is one of the oldest forms of folk in its costume area.
A collaborative endeavour to study Indian folklore in detail began only after India achieved independence. For the last few years a lot of research has gone into the collection, restoration and preservation of Indian folk history. Indian folklore is a fascinating and appealing topic to many as it is still alive and thriving vibrantly in India. With many official languages and more than 1,200 languages without written scripts, it is difficult to categorize any language-and-culture specific folklore in India. Hence generalizing or comparing Indian folklore to one another doesn't work. In the last two decades extensive research has been accomplished in gathering and translating various pieces of folk material into English and making them available on a larger scale.
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