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Tune UP TO Tihar

KATHMANDU, NOV 13 -

For a majority of the Nepali youth, Tihar is synonymous with the vibrant, alluring chants of Deusi-Bhailo. Youngsters travel across their towns, showering blessings of the Baliraja—who, according to folklore, is supposed to have sacrificed his own head to an incarnation of Lord Vishnu—on those they visit. It has been a long and popular tradition enjoyed by all, where clusters of young folks sing songs and are received with blessings, sweets and dakshina.

And yet, as with the rapid evolution of everything else in recent times, the manner in which festivities are approached has also undergone significant transformation. As Tihar arrives, schools and other organisations hold Deusi programmes as charity events to raise funds for old age homes and orphanages. Deusi, in this way, is also often paraded as a means of doing social work.

Elaborate performances—comprised of large groups that deliver specialised forms of music—are getting increasingly popular these days. Youngsters no longer limit themselves to typical Deusi songs, with programmes resembling extravagant cultural shows. But this has also meant additional planning and logistics hassles for groups.

Two years ago, getting a pick-up truck was a major headache for Ayush Man Dangol and his friends who were planning to go for Deusi. "Transporting our guitars and drums has always been a problem for us," Ayush says.

The planning process, however, is not without its excitement, especially for young boys who have watched older siblings engaging in similar activities.

It is the first time ninth grader Subashish Shah is part of a Deusi programme. He is the youngest member of his team. He says he has little idea about how the programme will go, but is enthusiastic. "My brother says we will have a splendid time," exclaims Subashish.

Joshan Shrestha, currently studying in Bangalore, pinpoints the reason why he misses Tihar more than Dashain—it has everything to do with Deusi. "Adults might enjoy Dashain, but Tihar is definitely the festival for children and teenagers," he says.

And indeed, Deusi is celebrated by youngsters, from urban as well as rural areas, with equal gusto. A native of Kaski, Prashant Adhikari says he loved playing Deusi in his

village where he was the leader of a small group of friends. As the oldest among them, he was always the one spearheading the Deusi programme.

"Since we had plans to cover the entire village in just two days, we would carry a cassette player with pre-recorded Deusi songs," Prashant recalls fondly.

While only a few people still play Deusi the traditional way, this aspect of celebrating Tihar, although constantly changing, has not lost its charm or relevance among teenagers. At the same time, the practice of Deusi-Bhailo does not necessarily bring joy to everyone. Increased crime rates inside the Valley, especially during the festive season, provides parents with enough reasons to keep their children from going out and enjoying themselves.

For Brazesh Aryal, who hails from Chitwan, Tihar is no longer as exciting as it used to be during his childhood. "Kathmandu has a terrible reputation in terms of

security in general, and even more so during the festive season," says Brazesh. "My parents are hesitant about allowing me to participate in Deusi-Bhailo programmes."

But the charm of Deusi persists still, and is especially pronounced in Nepalis living abroad. Take Bhugarwa Jung Karki, for example, who lives in Sydney at the moment and misses the way he used to participate in Deusi, along with the after-parties that carried on late into the night, with his friends in Kathmandu. "I wish I could go back to those days," he muses.

His friend, Rupesh Man Singh, however, says he does not go to play Deusi anymore as their old circle has thinned down substantially, with most now living abroad like Bhugarwa.

"A friend of mine who's studying medicine at Creighton University in the US says that words cannot describe how much he misses the Deusi fun that took place when he lived in Baneshwor," Rupesh says.

From children just being initiated into the Deusi-Bhailo circle, to adults who have long stopped participating in this exhilarating activity, people from all over Nepal cherish memories from previous years, and eagerly look forward to the next installment of these unique tunes of Tihar.

Abheeshu Dhungana & Sharthak Neupane

For a majority of the Nepali youth, Tihar is synonymous with the vibrant, alluring chants of Deusi-Bhailo. Youngsters travel across their towns, showering blessings of the Baliraja—who, according to folklore, is supposed to have sacrificed his own head to an incarnation of Lord Vishnu—on those they visit. It has been a long and popular tradition enjoyed by all, where clusters of young folks sing songs and are received with blessings, sweets and dakshina.

And yet, as with the rapid evolution of everything else in recent times, the manner in which festivities are approached has also undergone significant transformation. As Tihar arrives, schools and other organisations hold Deusi programmes as charity events to raise funds for old age homes and orphanages. Deusi, in this way, is also often paraded as a means of doing social work.

Elaborate performances—comprised of large groups that deliver specialised forms of music—are getting increasingly popular these days. Youngsters no longer limit themselves to typical Deusi songs, with programmes resembling extravagant cultural shows. But this has also meant additional planning and logistics hassles for groups.

Two years ago, getting a pick-up truck was a major headache for Ayush Man Dangol and his friends who were planning to go for Deusi. "Transporting our guitars and drums has always been a problem for us," Ayush says.

The planning process, however, is not without its excitement, especially for young boys who have watched older siblings engaging in similar activities.

It is the first time ninth grader Subashish Shah is part of a Deusi programme. He is the youngest member of his team. He says he has little idea about how the programme will go, but is enthusiastic. "My brother says we will have a splendid time," exclaims Subashish.

Joshan Shrestha, currently studying in Bangalore, pinpoints the reason why he misses Tihar more than Dashain—it has everything to do with Deusi. "Adults might enjoy Dashain, but Tihar is definitely the festival for children and teenagers," he says.

And indeed, Deusi is celebrated by youngsters, from urban as well as rural areas, with equal gusto. A native of Kaski, Prashant Adhikari says he loved playing Deusi in his

village where he was the leader of a small group of friends. As the oldest among them, he was always the one spearheading the Deusi programme.

"Since we had plans to cover the entire village in just two days, we would carry a cassette player with pre-recorded Deusi songs," Prashant recalls fondly.

While only a few people still play Deusi the traditional way, this aspect of celebrating Tihar, although constantly changing, has not lost its charm or relevance among teenagers. At the same time, the practice of Deusi-Bhailo does not necessarily bring joy to everyone. Increased crime rates inside the Valley, especially during the festive season, provides parents with enough reasons to keep their children from going out and enjoying themselves.

For Brazesh Aryal, who hails from Chitwan, Tihar is no longer as exciting as it used to be during his childhood. "Kathmandu has a terrible reputation in terms of security in general, and even more so during the festive season," says Brazesh. "My parents are hesitant about allowing me to participate in Deusi-Bhailo programmes."

But the charm of Deusi persists still, and is especially pronounced in Nepalis living abroad. Take Bhugarwa Jung Karki, for example, who lives in Sydney at the moment and misses the way he used to participate in Deusi, along with the after-parties that carried on late into the night, with his friends in Kathmandu. "I wish I could go back to those days," he muses.

His friend, Rupesh Man Singh, however, says he does not go to play Deusi anymore as their old circle has thinned down substantially, with most now living abroad like Bhugarwa.

"A friend of mine who's studying medicine at Creighton University in the US says that words cannot describe how much he misses the Deusi fun that took place when he lived in Baneshwor," Rupesh says.

From children just being initiated into the Deusi-Bhailo circle, to adults who have long stopped participating in this exhilarating activity, people from all over Nepal cherish memories from previous years, and eagerly look forward to the next installment of these unique tunes of Tihar.

Posted on: 2012-11-14 09:59


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