My father, Saptamuni Bajracharya, is considered one of the most prominent Charya Nritya gurus. Charya Nritya is a classical Newari dance recital, originally performed by the Bajaracharyas. It blends together three components -- music, posture, and dance, and is among one of four tantras.
Before the advent of democracy in 1951 AD, only a few communities were allowed to recite the dance form. Along with the Bajracharyas, the Shakyas, and Tuladhars secretly performed the art during religious ceremonies.
Outsiders were barred from even watching it. Even at present, some people are adamant about changing the practice. Moreover, it was only reserved for the dancers who were acquainted with the knowledge of the recital. However, performers would recite a vague rendition for other communities. It was only during broad daylight that the staging was permitted.
However, my father was against the inflexibility. He rightly believed barring Charya from other communities would lead to the extinction of the dance form. Thus, he was in favor of bringing the Charya dance among the general people. In doing so, he took the dance outside our community in 1956. It was considered a revolution back then. He first presented the skit in front of the then King, Mahendra Shah.
To promote the dance-form, he took his skills to various schools including Paropakar School, Durbar High School, and Prabhat School. Not just the natives, but his students consisted of several foreigners as well. Some of his Nepali pupils, like Mithila Sharma, Subhadra Adhikari, and Basanta Shrestha have even registered their names as leading choreographer in the Nepali film industry.
Though my father devoted his life to the promotion of Charya, he remains unknown to the general people. Even more, the nation has forgotten his contributions. on the contrary, the people who he taught to stand on their feet have been bestowed with several state honors. My wish is to reestablish his contribution to assure his work acknowledgment.
(As told to My City’s Kiran Lama.)