Folk Songs’ CD Released
A folk songs’ CD of Miss Komal Oli, a famous Nepali folk singer, was released by Nepali Folklore Society amidst a function on August 26, 2001. Former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was the Chief Guest in the programme. The products were Miss Oli’s first compact disc of folk songs and the seventh cassette album bearing the title Malmalkiri… On the occasion, Mr. Bhattarai admired the contributions of Miss Oli in Nepali folk songs, and appealed Nepali singers to work towards uplifting the pride of the nation by utilizing their talents and devotion towards cultural promotion. Another guest in the function Mr. Bal Bahadur K.C., Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, informed that the government was making the necessary preparations to establish a folk song museum.
The programme was chaired by Prof. Tulasi Diwasa, NFS President; and Prof. Chudamani Bandhu had delivered the welcome speech. Speaking from the chair, Prof. Diwasa pointed out the need for unity among the people of all ethnicity and communities for the preservation and promotion of Nepalese folk literature and culture. Mr. Santosh Sharma (Chairman, Music Nepal), Mr. Chetan Karki (lyricist and film director), Mr. Satya Mohan Joshi (eminent Nepali folk culture expert), Mr. Dharma Raj Thapa (prominent singer and poet) and others had also spoken on the occasion.
The First Sarangi Diwas
The first Sarangi Diwas (the Sarangi day) was organized by Nepali Folklore Society (NFS) in collaboration with Gandharva Culture and Art Organization in Kathmandu on February 6, 2003. It was the first event ever held in the country. There were 75 Gandharvas participating in the event from 10 districts of Nepal. The programme was organized in 3 sessions: the inaugural ceremony, symposium, and cultural show.
Mr. Ravi Bhakta Shrestha, Assistant Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, was the Chief Guest in the inaugural ceremony chaired by Prof. Tulasi Diwasa, NFS President. Prof. Chudamani Bandhu had given the welcome speech, while Prof. Abhi Subedi had formally introduced Mr. Pranesh Maskey, a singer and song writer who came from America, and Mr. Jhalak Man Gandharva, a famous Nepali folk singer.
On the occasion, Mr. Gandharva was offered a special honour with a letter of appreciation on behalf of NFS for his long contribution in Nepali folk music. Besides, the Chief Guest gave away a cash prize of Rs. 25, 000 from his pocket to Mr. Gandharva in appreciation of his contribution in folk songs. An audio cassette and CD by Mr. Pranesh Maskey was also released on the same occasion. The honoured personality, Mr. Gandharva, had also delivered his speech and presented his famous folk song Amale sodhlin ni…..
Prof. Diwasa had chaired the symposium session also. The symposium was entitled “Gandharva and Sarangi: Development and Changes”. Prof. Chudamani Bandhu, Mr. Kusumakar Neupane, Miss Imai Phumiko, and Mr. Raj Kumar Gandharva had presented their papers on “Gandharvas’ Karkha”, “Folk Songs of Gandharvas in Pokhara”, “Socio-economic Life of Gandharvas”, and “Gandharva Culture and Tradition” respectively. Besides, discussion was also held among the participants on the papers.
After the symposium, a cultural programme was organized by the Gandharvas. Along with the music of Sarangi, singers and dancers from Gandharva community had presented several performances, including the traditional Jhyaure songs, historical songs, Gandharvas’ marriage songs, Mangals, Asare Git, as well as Tarawar Nach (dance performance with the warrior’s swords). Some of the titles of the songs included in their performance were: Resham phiriri, Basanta Ayo, Aja malai lina ae, etc. Finally, certificates were distributed to the participants; thus the programme was successfully completed.
Folklore and Folklife Field Study Workshop
Society (NFS), for the first time in the history of Nepal, organized a 10-day
workshop on folklore and folklife study from 16th to 25th April, 2005. The event
was organized to discuss the recent theories and methodologies of folklore and
folklife studies, with two important aims: making the members of NFS
well-acquainted with the modern trends of studying folklore; and training the
field researchers in collecting and preserving the information on folklore and
There were 20 participants in the workshop, and about 25 resource persons had provided them with the necessary exposure on different aspects of folklore and folklife study, including the introduction to folklore and folk life, folklore theories and methodologies, folklore and folk life studies in Nepal, Finnish method of studying tale types, folklore collection and archiving, literary theories and folklore, ethnographic folklore, folklore fieldwork, anthropological methodology, functionalism and folklore, language and folklore, folklore and folk psychology, rituals, festivals and performance, folklore, context and performance, myths, legends and religion, manners, beliefs and practices, songs and ethnomusicology, folk dances and dramatic performances, music and musical instruments, folk arts and crafts, interpretation of cultures, collection and transcribing of oral texts, translation of oral texts, oral communication, gender and folk life study, survey and use of questionnaire, photography, analysis and presentation of data, tape recording and video recording, use of field notes, data sheets, illustrations and the structure of fieldwork report, etc.
The resource persons involved in the workshop were Prof. Tulasi Diwasa, Prof. Dr. Abhi Subedi, Prof. Dr. C.M. Bandhu, Dr. Motilal Parajuli, Prof. Dr. M.P. Pokharel, Dr. Sudarshan Tiwari, Dr. Krishna B. Bhattachan, Prof. Ram Kumar Pandey, Prof. Dr. Prem Khatri, Prof. Dr. Murari Pd. Regmi, Mr. Bairagi Kaila, Mr. Hiranya Bhojpure, Prof. Dr. Ramesh Kuwar, Dr. R.B. Chhetri, Prof. Dr. Govinda R. Bhattarai, Dr. Ananda P. Sharma, Prof. Dr. P.P. Timilsina, Dr. Tirth B. Shrestha, Mr. Satya Mohan Joshi, Prof. D.R. Dahal, Prof. Dr. Tirtha Mishra, Mr. Bijaya Udaya Palpali, Dr. Om Gurung, Dr. Sangita Rayamajhi, Mr. Purushottam Ghimire, and others.
The participants selected for the workshop were the members of Nepali Folklore Society interested in field-based folklore and folk life studies and scholars from Tribhuvan University and other academic institutions, having the minimum qualification of Master’s Degree in Humanities and Social Sciences.
Overall, the workshop became a good opportunity for the participants in enriching and updating their knowledge on folklore studies, as well as in acquiring the necessary skills needed to carry out field research on folklore and folk life. In the ongoing Folklore and Folklife Study Project, most of the field researchers have been selected out of these participants.
Karkha Singing Competition at Pokhara
Karkha singing competition was held in Nepal for the first time at Pokhara on 24th September, 2005. The programme was organized jointly by Nepal Gandharva Community Development Centre and Nepali Folklore Society (NFS). The Chief Guest Prof. Tulasi Diwasa, NFS President, had inaugurated the function, while Mr. Bhim Bahadur Gayak had chaired it.
In the competition, the group of Lal Bahadur Gandharva and Govinda Gandharva was declared the first prize winner. Krishna Bahadur Gandharva won the second and Kale Gandharva won the third position, while Padam Bahadur Gandharva, Hari Bahadur Gandharva and Harka Bahadur Gandharva got the consolation prize. The Chief Guest Prof. Diwasa gave away prizes to the winners.
In the programme, 21 individual and group singers had presented the traditional Karkha ballads on various themes, including the songs which highlighted the heroic acts of the historically famous national figures like Prithvi Narayan Shah, Bhakti Thapa, Chandra Shumser, Bam Bahadur Thapa, Birendra Bir Bikram Shah, Tenjing Sherpa etc.; devotional songs based on the religious stories/descriptions like Swasthani; songs describing the painful lives of women in society like Sarumai Rani, Manakoila Rani etc.; songs narrating the folk legends like Krishna Gandaki, etc.
On this occasion, 10 senior-most Gandharva singers were offered special honour for their contribution in Karkha singing tradition. Those receiving the honour were: Gyan Bahadur Gayak, Khim Bahadur Gayak, Kale Gandharva, Mohan Bahadur Gandharva, Tika Maya Gandharva, Hari Bahadur Gandharva, Tul Bahadur Gandharva, Top Bahadur Gandharva, Krishna Bahadur Gandharva, and Padam Bahadur Gandharva.
Appreciating the efforts of the participants and field researchers working under the Folklore and Folklife Study Project in making the event a success, Chief Guest Prof. Diwasa stressed the need for organizing such programmes, since such efforts will help us a lot in preserving the folk tradition from disappearing.
Talk Programme on Change and Diversity in Nepali Society
Nepali Folklore Society and Royal Nepal Academy jointly organized a talk programme entitled ‘Change and Diversity in the Nepali Society’ by Dr. Hisroshi Ishii, Professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, on November 29, 1996. The lecture was based on Prof. Ishii’s research on the changing patterns in various ethnic groups of Nepalese society.
Presenting a comparative study of some selected societies of Nepal, he pointed out that Newar society was found most receptive to changes, while Maithili society was still found old-fashioned. In his presentation, Prof. Ishii said, “If certain measures are not taken about monitoring the changes it could bring about negative impact on society.”
The participants attending the function were university teachers, anthropologists, historians and writers on Nepali society and culture. Discussion followed after the presentation, when the participants had raised questions and queries on the content of the presentation. Prof. Gopal Singh Nepali, Dr. Pratyoush Onta, Dr. Krishna Bhattachan, Dr. Drona Rajouria and others had taken part in the discussion.
The programme was chaired by Mr. Madan Mani Dixit, Vice-Chancellor of the Academy. Prof. Tulasi Diwasa, President of Nepali Folklore Society, and Prof. Abhi Subedi had introduced Prof. Ishii’s works and experiences. Dhuswan Sayami, a member of Royal Nepal Academy, had delivered Vote of Thanks to the participants.
Talk Programme on Tamang Shamanism
Nepali Folklore Society, in collaboration with Royal Nepal Academy, organized a talk programme entitled ‘Spiritual Healing among Tamang Shamans’ by Prof. Dr. Larry G. Peters (America) on December 3, 1996, at the Academy Hall. In his lecture based on research findings, Dr. Peters described the shamanistic practices among Tamangs of Nepal from anthropological, social, and general human psychological perspectives. He also described the significance of symbols on shamanistic pooja, the healing practices and communication. He remarked, “The role of the shaman is to establish rapport between the patient’s experiences and the spirits.” Further, Dr. Peters said since American studies have lost force due to their scientificity, he had come to Nepal in order to study the older culture that is still practising shamanism in Nepal.
After the lecture, Dhuswan Sayami, Dr. David Gellner, Prof. D.P. Bhandari, Dr. Abhi Subedi, Mr. Jainendra Jivan and other participants had taken part in discussion. They discussed on the modality of studies, assimilation of the Hindu, Buddhist and animistic practices, language and broader pragmatic aspects of shamanism.
Before the lecture, Prof. Tulasi Diwasa, NFS President, had introduced Dr. Peters’ works, while poet Bairagi Kaila had given the welcome speech to the participants and Prof. Chudamani Bandhu had delivered Vote of Thanks in the end. The programme was chaired by Madan Mani Dixit, Vice-Chancellor of the Academy.
Reception and Talk Programme in Honour of Finnish Government’s Mission
A talk programme was organized by Nepali Folklore Society on May 24th, 1998, on the occasion of the visit of a Finnish government’s mission to Nepal. It was the mission from the Department of International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The mission was in Kathmandu for a cultural exchange programme.
As the Chief Guest in the function, Mr. Esa Hurtig, Finnish Charge d’ Affairs to Nepal, said that the mission would play a vital role in promoting Nepali culture in Finland.
Dr. Sonja Servoma from Helsinki University, Dr. Maria Leena Magnusson of Lapland University, and Mr. Esa Peltonen, the cultural secretary of Rovaniemi (a northern Finnish town) had delivered their speech in the programme. Dr. Servomma also read out her poems on the occasion.
About 70 people from different fields related to culture had attended the event. After delivering their presentations, the members of the mission and NFS members presented their views and proposals for the promotion of cultural exchange between the two countries. They also answered the queries raised by the audience in the discussion. After the discussion, the programme concluded with a proposal for translating poetry in the languages of both the countries.
On the occasion, Nepali Musician Kishor Gurung stressed the need for documenting folk music and offering courses on music through university education. Prof. Tulasi Diwasa, the local consultant of the mission and NFS President, said that it was for the first time the Finnish government had agreed to assist Nepal for cultural promotion.
Poem Recitation/ Symposium
Nepal-Japan Joint Poetry Recitation
(commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Nepal-Japan relation)
Nepali Folklore Society organized a Nepalese-Japanese joint poetry recitation programme to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relation between Nepal and Japan, in collaboration with Royal Nepal Academy and the Japanese Embassy on 13th December, 1996 at the Academy Hall, Kamaladi Kathmandu. In the programme, two renowned Japanese poets Tanikawa Suntaro and Sasaki Mikiro had recited poems in their native language, while ten Nepali poets including Kedar Man Byathit, Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Bairagi Kaila, Tulasi Diwasa, Ishwor Ballav, Banira Giri, Manjul and others had recited poems in Nepali.
In the programme, the translated versions of the poems recited by Nepali poets were presented in English as well, while the translated versions of those recited by Japanese poets were also presented in Nepali.
Earlier, the vice-chancellor of Royal Nepal Academy Madan Mani Dixit, member Bairagi Kaila and president of the Society Tulasi Diwasa expressed the view that the programme would help further strengthen the relations existing between the two countries.
Counsellor at the Japanese embassy Hojan Kikuchi, stating that the programme had added more vigour to the old relationship existing between the two countries, disclosed that the famous Nepali creations had been translated to make them accessible for the Japanese readers.
Poem Recitation by Dutch-Spanish
Nepali Folklore Society and Royal Nepal Academy organized a poem recitation programme in honour of Germain Droogenbroodt, a famous Dutch-Spanish poet, on January 23, 1998. In the function, the guest poet recited a few poems in Dutch, Spanish, German and English; and the translated versions of those poems were also presented in Nepali. On the occasion, presenting a paper entitled ‘Elements of Nature in Modern Poetry’, Poet Droogenbroodt stressed that nature has been constantly present in poetry all over the globe; but nowadays, due to the tendency of the majority of poets to live in the ‘skycrapers’, poetry is facing the challenge of lacking the reflection of nature upon it.
In the programme, about 30 Nepali poets had recited their poems on various themes. Welcoming the guest and other participants, Prof. Tulasi Diwasa had formally introduced Droogenbroodt as a poet and translator of international reputation. The function was chaired by Poet Madhav Prasad Ghimire, former Vice-Chancellor of Royal Nepal Academy. Academician Bairagi Kaila had delivered Vote of Thanks to the participants.
During his stay in Nepal, Poet Droogenbroodt had informed about his plan for internationalizing the poetry by collecting the poems from different languages of the world, translating them into English, Spanish, Dutch and other languages, and then disseminating the poems through his internet poetry project, by maintaining a special website for the poetry. He had expressed his ambition to promote Nepali poetry abroad through his project by translating Nepali poems into Spanish, Dutch and other languages.
Nepali Folklore Society and Royal Nepal Academy jointly organized a special poetry symposium on February 24, 2004, in honour of two famous poets from Bangladesh: Phajal Shahbuddhin and Amirul Rahman. On the occasion, the two guest poets said that their visit to Nepal was highly cordial and fruitful, among their visits to several other countries.
Nepali poets Madhav Ghimire and Mohan Koirala had recited their poems on the occasion, as the ‘Chief Guest’ and ‘Special Guest’ respectively.
The programme was chaired by NFS President Prof. Tulasi Diwasa; and Prof. Abhi Subedi had introduced the foreign poets. On the occasion, about 35 Nepali poets had recited their poems on various themes.
Finnish Maestros Cast a Spell
Traditions of Folk Music in Finland and Nepal
(First published in The Rising Nepal, December 9, 1999) BY ARHAN STHAPIT
As the audience’s long applause at the Buddhist philosophy-influenced Siddharth Hall at Hotel Bluestar here Thursday evening simmered in anticipation, the Finnish and Nepali artists started playing the great folk music of their respective cultures. At the seminar-cum-music performance programme jointly organised by the Embassy of Finland and the Nepali Folklore Society, the Finnish artistes Jouko Paakkonen and Miss Mona-Liisa Malvelehto dished out the music of harmony so inherent in the Finns’ folk music while Nepali groups Sringara, Nepal Express, Karma and Nateshwori Sangeet Samuha performed in style at the colourful evening.
This is the first ever joint music performance of Finnish and Nepali music artistes in Nepal. “Importantly, it has been a programme organised as a part of the celebration of the 82nd Independence Day of Finland and to mark the important year of assuming of EU-presidency,” Finnish Ambassador to Nepal Esa Hurtig told this reporter.
The Finnish performers cast a magical spell over the audience while their fingers moved deftly on the accordeon to produce the fantastic folk melody with soothing harmony. Jouko Paakkonen, Professor of Accordeon class in Music College of Lappaland at University of Rovaniemi, Finland, was well supported by a sixteen-years-old Finnish lass Mona-Lissa Malvelehto, the winner of renowned Golden Accordeon Competition this year in Finland. With about half a dozen of musical pieces, the Finnish artistes-duo regaled the discerning audience.
Nepali group Sringara presented a number of items that included folk music (Resham Firiri) and Newari traditional tune on Tabla, Madal, Sitar and Sarangi.
The vibrant band Nepal Express’s repertoire for the evening included ethnic music performances that represented three different geographic regions, namely, mountainous, hill/Kathmandu valley, and Terai. The ensemble of the Kishore Gurung led band included Sarangi, Tungna, flute, small cymbals and typical reedpipe (usually played by Mahayana Buddhist monks). They played a tune from Helambu of the northern Nepal, Rajamati of Newars and a sprightly tune from Terai where they also tried deminiendo and allegro thereby driving the anticipating audience on entertainment spree.
Another group Karma made an apparent attempt to yield a blend of folk music and classical/ traditional music of Nepal. Their five-item performance ended with the culmination of tempo and scale of flute, bamboo-flute, Sitar and Tabla. They played Newari, Sherpa and Parbate Folksongs.
It was however legendry Nhuchhe Dangol-led Nateshori Sangeet Samuha that presented probably the most spectacular show of the evening. With 22 different types of Nepali drums that included Dapakhin, Madals, Dhime (big two-headed drums), Dholak and a number of other Khins (Newari drums) on the orchestra, one single percussionist could have a marvelous performance.
The hall heard an incessant applause when the performer Sanuraj Maharjan moved his hands in the 22 drums which was something simply incredible to believe. His colleagues in harmonium, ponga (Newari pipe), flute and cymbals supported his performance.
Earlier at the first session of the function, a seminar on ‘Traditions of Folk Music in Finland and Nepal’ was held. Prof. Junko Paakkonen of University of Rovaniemi (Finland) shed light on the basic elements and attributes of Finnish folk music traditions. Dividing his country’s folk songs in 3 categories, namely northern, eastern and western Finland based on alien culture influences on the music there of, he elucidated and illustrated their basic musical characteristics.
In his paper Panorama of Nepali Traditional Music, ethnomusicologist Kishor Gurung delved into different musical ensembles popular in different ethnic groups of Nepal. He illustrated attributes of ensembles that comprised Naumati baza of Gurung, Magar and Dura communities of western Nepal, Newari instruments and Mani-rimdu of Khumbu region’s Mahayana sect of Buddhism.
Speaking on the tradition of Nepali folk music, life member of the Royal Nepal Academy and President of Nepali Folklore Society Prof. Tulasi Diwasa delineated Nepali folk music in light of the influences of classical and traditional music of Nepal.
“Our research efforts now should be focused on musical features rather than text or lyrics when it comes to folk songs,” he said.
Expressing concern on emergence of ‘pseudo folk songs’ in the name of folk songs in Nepal, Prof. Diwasa said, “Attempts should be made to explore market for Nepali folk music in the global market place, which is a must for promotion of overall Nepali music.”
Finnish envoy Esa Hurtig delivered a welcome speech at the function where Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy Mohan Koirala, folklore specialist and litterateur Satya Mohan Joshi and a score of academia, researchers, senior artists and pressmen were present. The master of ceremony of the evening was Dr. Abhi Subedi.