Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dalit family resolved to keep Naumati band alive

ILAM, April 3: Till a few years back, the playing of the classical naumati baja was a regular sound for the locals of Barbote VDC, as it used to herald someone getting married or a mother giving birth recently.
Every household used to welcome these traditional instrumentalists to their doorsteps to celebrate such auspicious occasions with the music. But now a days, the tradition has gradually vanished as most of the naumati instrumentalists have shied away from the calling to take up something more lucrative.

Despite this dismal trend, one dalit family in Barbote VDC-4 has been keeping the musical tradition alive for years and has no intention of giving up, whatever the cost. Bhim Bahadur Nepali, 58, an established naumati instrumentalist of the village, and a band comprising his family still reach out to the villagers to paly their music whenever called upon.

Bhim, along with family members Gopal Nepali, Rabin Nepali, Kabir Nepali, Bhuwan Nepali, Dilip Nepali, Khadak Pariyar, Sudhir Pariyar and Mukesh Pariyar as well as Dil Bahadur Tamang are the only remaining naumati instrumentalists in the whole VDC.

"Seven-year-old Naresh Nepali, who assists with the band, is the youngest in the group and the most keen cymbal player we have," said Bhim.

According to Bhim, they have been playing their music not only in Barbote but in various other places like Panchthar, Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Bhojpur, Jhapa and a few cities in India as well.

"Most of those involved in this calling have moved on to other things and to my knowledge we are the only remaining band in the whole district, but abandoning this work has never even occurred to us. I am filled with pride whenever I pick up the instrument and play till my heart thrills to the music," said Bhim.

"This is our ancestral calling and I am not going to let it disappear as long as I live," said Bhim. "I can never forget my late father Bhatta Bahadur making me pledge not to abandon the calling under any circumstance, and I won´t either," he said. "Our culture and our tradition will be wiped out if we stop playing our music," he added.

The dying out of musicians in this calling worries Bhim no end. "Many have left and they don´t understand that our ethnic existence and worth are knitted in with this music and the instruments handed down to us from our forefathers," he said.

Bhim informed that they have established a youth club in the village from the earnings they have managed by playing their music. "Each one contributes something to the club and the money gathered is mostly used in buying new musical instruments and for social purposes," he said.
from Republica

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