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Newar group contributes to flourishing of flute culture
Flutes that are usually played in every traditional ceremony of the Newar community have become a commercial product now. Madhyapur, Thimi-based Nikosera Flute Group in Bhaktapur is touted to be the first commercial flute group.
As per the group members, the objective behind forming the group is to preserve the ancient musical instruments. “More than generating income, our main objective is to keep our culture alive through flutes. In order to make the purpose effective, it was important to market flutes as a commercial product.”
“In order to cover the expense of buying instruments and required costumes for the music players, it is important for our group to come out commercially,” said Chairperson of the group, Punyaram Dhauwanjar. “People, especially youths, hardly take time out of their busy schedules to contribute to the community if they have nothing to gain from the same,” added Dhauwanjar.
The flute group also consists of female members. “The participation of both male and female members is one of the requirements of the group. The members who participate are dressed in traditional Newari attires,” said one of the group members, Punyaswari Dhauwanjar.
“We earn a minimum of Rs 5,000 to a maximum of Rs 25,000 at each event depending upon the kind of show, the time dedicated by the members and the number of participants at the show. Each group comprises of six-24 members depending on the need, and all the members contribute half of their remuneration to the organization,” added Punyaswari.
Flute teacher Dhan Krishna Sajhawa stated that the lessons are six months long. It is estimated that the bountiful number of flutes in Bhaktapur area has been decreasing at a higher rate every year. The number of flutes and its selling market is believed to be degrading due to low turnover.
Other flute groups in Bhaktapur stage musical performances during festivals including jatras and weddings. These artists from a diverse background play flutes and other musical instruments around their local areas.