Buddham Sharanam Gacchami: Bharat Nepali, Mana Rai Nakarmi, Pancha Maharjan, and Mahdu Gurung

Music Issue 26 Jul, 2010
Text by Salil Subedi

Bharat Nepali, who was born in the ancient town of Bhaktapur has painted the grand Newari heritage of Kathmandu valley in his soulful play of sarangi – the Nepali fiddle - in combination with traditional drums khi and madal played by Mana Raj Nakarmi and Pancha Maharjan, with Mahdu Gurung in vocals.

What makes this album pleasant is the combination of ten tracks which represent the very soul of Newari music. As economic and social ties grew in the native Jyapu (Newari farmer caste) community of the Valley, life seems to have become more vibrant and colorful. The music here portrays the delights of those times in songs like ‘Nani Maiju’, ‘Guli Balan’, ‘Shilu’ and ‘Rajamati”, which have a very youthful connotation – from wooing to poetic narratives of beauty, grace and charm – and are sung during planting, harvesting and the revelry of festivals.

The title song, ‘Buddham Saranam Gacchami’, hints at the spiritual way of life. This melody is very nostalgic to the elderly folks, some of who still walk in processions of musicians humming this melody from as far as Bhaktapur and Patan all the way to Swoyambhu, during the month-long Gunla festival in the monsoon. The delight of this album comes from these contexts and the listener’s reverie of imagination. The next time you are out at a Newari festival on Kathmandu streets, you can relax without having to record the tunes as they are already back home on this CD.