Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Collection of Tharu songs sung during different rituals

Tharus have inherited a rich culture from their ancestors. However, many traditions have been encroached and manipulated by the influence of new settlers – migrants from hills and neighbouring states of India. Earlier and even till date, Tharus have a rich tradition of singing songs during rituals ranging from birth till death.

These days, most of the songs have vanished along with the old ladies who used to sing during the different rituals. Still some songs are sung during the major occasions, but no one is sure whether they are the right songs. Thanks to the efforts of Ms. Nirmala Devi Chaudhary from Mohanpur Village Development Committee in Saptary district of Eastern Nepal, most of the songs have been collected and published. 

The collection includes songs sung during the Ghardekh – a ritual when the close relatives and groom’s father visit the bride’s house to confirm the engagement. Likewise, the bride’s father and his close relatives and friends visit the groom’s house for the Ghardekh. It includes song sung for the home deity followed during the Ghardekh followed by the songs sung when the visitors (Ghardekhiya) are having lunch.

Similarly, the collection comprises songs sung prior to the marriage (Kumraun) and during the installing of Maruwa (the makeshift structure where marriage takes place). Likewise, the collection boasts of songs sung during the different rituals related to marriage: worshipping a basil (Tulsi) plant and a religious tree at Than (place where people worship the village deity), marrying a well and a mango tree (the bride and groom get married to these!), roasting rice (that is showered over the bride and groom and the deities), uprooting Dwib (a kind of grass that doesn’t wilt), welcoming the groom to the bride’s house and welcoming the bride to the groom’s house, and all steps leading to tying the knot.

The collection also has traditional songs like Birhain, Chachair and even songs sung during rice plantation and Sama-Chakewa festival.

The collection, published 14 years ago, still has a significant role in preserving the rich Tharu tradition and culture. Only a thousand copies of the publication were printed and I am not sure whether the book is available at any bookstore in the country.