Live at the Vajra: Traditional Newa Music

Happening Issue 50 Jul, 2010
Text by Eva Manandhar / Photo: ECS Media

Enraptured by the music, we reveled in the various traditional Newari tunes played at the Hotel Vajra. A presentation of “Tanani Bajan Khala” is staged here every Sunday at 6 pm. The musicians have very skillfully made a compilation of various entertaining pieces of music, and a total of fourteen musical compositions are performed. You get to feel and be a part of the authentic Newari tradition, witness the cultural heritage and observe the importance of music in Nepal’s feasts and festivals. Music, which is an integral part of almost every cultural occasion, can be seen in its true spirit with enthusiasm radiating from these performers.

It is interesting to note that they play music developed around the 12th -13th century and is known as ‘Dapa’ melodies. Along with it, they also play music that is played during rituals, festivals and important occasions. A full-fledged performance with 31 musicians playing over 20 different kinds of instruments can be enjoyed every Sunday. An assortment of musical instruments are used with various kinds of drums including Moo Dhime, Khin, Pachhima, Naye Khin, Jwo Nagara, Damaru to name a few. These are played along with cymbals like Taa, Bhusya and Kaynpin. To give the music a more melodious feel, a flute or Basuri accompanies them. With each instrument having its own unique sound, the combination of various instruments and tunes captivates you.

The first performance is called Nasaa Dyo ‘Gwara’ song, which is quite significant as Nasaa Dyo is considered the Lord of Music, Dance and Art, and traditionally the tune is played before teaching music and dance. Some other prominent tunes that are presented consist of Moo Dhime, usually played during processions for festivals; Mangal Dhun, the popular melody which is specially played for weddings and other rituals; Asare which comes from the word Asar, the Nepali month when paddy plantation is done; Nilkantha ‘Gwara’, a Dapa song related to Lord Shiva and also forms a part of the wedding Choir. Dhime drums make lively music, which comes from the combination of drums and cymbals and forms an essential part of almost every festival in the valley. Malashree is a melody played during the Dashain festival. ‘Basant’ or spring season is also welcomed with a melody of its own, which seems to be a mixture of religious and love songs. From slow, soft tunes to ones that will get your foot tapping, the 75 minutes pass by quickly and the music is delightful.

For details: Rameshwor Maharjan (9841254034), Hotel Vajra, Phone No. 4271545