KATHMANDU, Oct 21: Nepali folk music, which is on the verge of extinction, has got a new lifeline and admirers with its exposure to a substantial number of international audiences during the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo held recently in Scotland.
The Nepal Army, famed for its valor and bravery displayed by the Gurkhas in support of the allied forces during the World Wars, this time won the hearts of the European audience through folk music displayed by its military band during the 21-day international music fest held to commemorate historical ties between the armies that fought together during the World Wars.
The first-ever participation of Nepal – or any other south Asian country – in the annual event of Britain also marked the 200th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and Great Britain.
“Music is a universal language. What captivated the audience during the Tattoo was the unique features and variations of our folk music, including the demonstration of Sarangi, Panche Baja, Nepali folk dance and Khukuri dance,” said Lieutenant Colonel Amul Karki Dhali, who led the 50-member Nepali orchestra at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Brigadier General Tara Bahadur Karki, spokesperson of the Nepal Army, said that the band display helped in preserving the cultural heritage of Nepal and it was a matter of pride to represent the country in front of hundreds of thousands of people.
It was the biggest ever platform for Nepali folk music, which is losing its charm among the local population due to the influence of western music. Ironically, it was the same music that stood out among the crowd in Europe, according to Lt Col Dhali.
According to media reports, the Tattoo witnessed more than 220, 000 spectators, 1200 performers, 250 pipers and drummers and a 250,000-pound projection and light show from the team behind Danny Boyle’s 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
“Special effects will transform the façade of Edinburgh Castle into Mount Everest for this year’s Tattoo,” wrote the Edinburgh Evening News on the eve of the music fest.
According to Lt Col Dhali, Nepal and New Zealand, among the seven participating nations including Britain, USA, Canada, Norway and Jordan, were chosen for public display for their outstanding performance.
“We performed 30 shows, one each every day and two during Saturdays to as many as 8,800 audience on one particular day,” said Lt Col Dhali, who is a renowned saxophonist of Nepal. According to him, they have been preserving the culture of Nepal in addition to adopting modern approach to music but had never had an opportunity to exhibit Nepal’s cultural heritage in front of such a large audience.
“We are proud to keep the cultural heritage of Nepal alive,” said Lt Col Dhali, adding that the unique nature of Nepali folk music received a warm applause in the big stage of Europe.