Living culture practice
Photographer : Hari Maharjan (ECS Media)
The Jyapus, a Newar community predominantly based in the Kathmandu Valley, have a rich culture and various rituals since birth to death. With a strong connection to their identity, their community takes it upon themselves to preserve their living cultures through music, dance and dafa bhajans among others. There are no inscriptions on these cultural practices, rather all these practices are passed on through the teachings of a senior guruji as told by Guru Chiri Kaji Maharjan of Khapinchhen, Patan who has taught ‘Basuri ghor’ (bass flute) and dafa bhajans (hymns) for more than three decades.
This year Khapinchhen, Patan organized the basuri (flute) training program after 18 years. All modules of training were conducted in the traditional manner. The method used in teaching however has been updated to keep up with modern technology. The students are now provided with notations of the songs played on the basuri. Every students has to carry a ` Kisali’ – a clay bowl full of rice and a coin to offer to the main deity here - Natyeshwor. All the students worship this deity, which is a dancing avataar of Lord Shiva, during this training period. Each Thursday sees the organization of a big puja and the distribution of prasaad, comprising of the Newar delicacy set - Samay Baji after offering it customarily to the main deity. It is believed that during the training period, students should not perform outside the training area. After three months of training, they have Ba-puja or a declaration of the completion of half of their course. They also have a similar but larger ceremony to mark the end of the course. It is also during this time that the ranks of the students are declared.
After the successful six month-training, the celebration of Sasa Puja (Sasa means Saraswati - the goddess of education) is celebrated to appease the goddess Saraswoti. All the musicians gather in the main court of their tole and head towards the Saraswati temple playing musical instruments like dhimey and basuri with khin, dholak and daa- a special type of drum. This procession is organized every year in March- April.
I have tried to capture some of the glimpses of the basuri training and the Sasapuja in this photo story. Because I grew up exposed to the musical journeys of my father and my uncles, I was fascinated by the existing presence of this culture. I myself also learnt the basuri ghor. My only concern is that we should preserve this living culture and our traditions passing on this knowledge via inscriptions of songs and other things to the next generation.