State Of The Art Of Folklore Studies In Nepal (II): Prem Khatry

In the last issue, the writer introduced the Folklore National Council (FNC) to the readers of this daily with a view to propagating its basic and main objectives, the current status of the organisation and the ongoing activities. As the nation moves toward the federal structure, there will be queries about the impending policy and plans for the development of both the tangible and intangible heritage of Nepal where more than 125 languages, hundreds of dialects and several scripts and their creators as well as users will stand strong candidates for their balanced treatment and support.


Similarly, both tangible and intangible heritage in the form of beliefs, practices, folk arts, technology, customs, traditions, among other forms of folk culture, will need proper focus for their study, research, preservation and publication. FNC is now engaged to do this as part of its national responsibility.


Thus far, five national conventions have been held – in Bhairahawa, Pokhara, Dang, Dhangadhi (with local seminars in Dadeldhura, Doti, Baitadi, Achham) and Surkhet (with Salyan, Dailekh, Dullu and Surkhet). The idea of having these local or district level seminars is to address the local need and aspiration of the local academia willing to cooperate with and collaborate in hosting these national and district level events. So far, this collaboration style has been creative, mutually beneficial and instrumental in empowering the local stakeholders. Also, the local administration and private agencies have shown special and focused interest in extending their supportive hands to achieve the goal set by the NFC and local collaborators.


Fifth National Convention       

Recently, the FNC organised its 5th national convention in mid-west Nepal, starting from Salyan, moving to Dailekh-Dullu and concluding in Surkhet. This gave focused exposure to nearly 40 FNC central member-professors and academicians and writer-scholars visiting from scores of districts. Also, local teachers, professors, academicians, culture experts, musicians, singers and other artists had the opportunity to meet and socialise with the visiting FNC team.


In Salyan, Magh 7th and 8th marked the national convention of Art and Literature. The FNC team of 40 joined hands with the local organisation in completing the event successfully. On the first day, there were several colourful processions and presentations of local dances, music and musical instruments.


The youth of Salyan did all they could to bring the once famous but gradually disappearing songs and dances performed by the people during the royal regime of the past. The artistes were supposed to entertain the royalties and the people alike on several occasions throughout the year. Famous dances named the Mayur or Sarbang, Sorathi, Lahare, Bankali, Sarangi, Maruni and others were staged.


The main features of the dances included the participation of Bahun-Chhetris alongside the Magar and other castes. The commentators highlighted on the origin of many such dances in the river belts and farm villages where people needed entertainment. But their duty also involved the performance in the royal courtyards and public spaces. With the fall of the medieval monarchy and coming of modern Nepal, many such performances with their ancient history went into oblivion. The youth of Salyan thus thought it necessary to revive them as their cultural pride.


With the FNC, the Salyan youths collaborated in honouring the senior and important folklore stakeholders and artistes for their valuable contributions in the field of art and culture. Chief District Officer of Salyan Krishna Prasad Acharya did all he could to make the event a success. He had worked one whole year to generate funds, to revive the dances, music and songs of the past and recreate them in the event. In his speech he said he was not only interested in recreating the lost assets but hoped to revive them for future occasions as part of the cultural life of the people of Salyan.


Some highlights

The programme also highlighted famous scholars like writers FNC Chief Prof. Jaya Raj Pant, Khagendra Sangroula and Yug Pathak, poets and writers Saraswati Pratikshya, Usha Hamal, Nikhil Nivesh, Sameer Shah, Amar Shah, Pankaj, Rishi Shah, Keshav Devkota and others. The musical performances of Chandrakala Shah, Shilawati Budha and her artiste husband captured the attention of hundreds of listeners till the end of the warm and clean day into the chilly evening of the nearly 5,000-ft high Khalanga Bazaar.


Here is a final note. Amidst the jubilation on the hilltop overlooking the snowy Sisne Mountain, Gumakh Lekh, ginger capital Malneta, orange capital Melouli and many beautiful hills and green Jyula rice fields, the Kathmandu visitors had one painful concern. They felt that with the super fast growth of Srinagar township near Jyula down on the bank of the River Sharada, the district headquarters Khalanga town looked heading steadily into eventual demise. This may not happen, but it now looks deserted. People even joke - the spirit of Prime Minister Marich Man Shrestha may ultimately turn Khalanga into a ghost city. (Contd..)       

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