“The idea behind Paleti is to create an event where the audience is able to enjoy a relaxed musical evening,” says musician Aavaas.
Meena Niraula and her team were meticulously practicing for a Paleti concert the last time we met them. Amidst serious and rigorous practice sessions, the instrumentalists would sporadically crack small musical jokes to lighten up the mood.
The camaraderie the members shared was clearly visible at practice time where outstanding musical performance met fun and merriment.
“The idea behind Paleti is to create an event where the audience is able to enjoy a relaxed musical evening,” says musician Aavaas. The concept got its shape in 2005 when artists at Nepa-laya wanted to promote contemporary Nepali music. “The audience usually feels tired and exhausted after a concert,” says Aavaas. “At our musical nights, people sit down, relax and enjoy the evening. They can go back home feeling rejuvenated,” he adds.
“The genre of contemporary Nepali music is different from that of the modern or the classical one,” says singer Niraula.
According to Niraula, the music was introduced in Nepal in the 1960s by artists like Melwa Devi, Bachchu Kailash, Narayan Gopal, and Amar Gurung. “We organize musical evenings such as this every month so that the contemporary Nepali music lingers in the mind of people,” explains Aavaas. “With the advent of various other forms of music such as pop, rock and rap culture we don’t want people to forget this form,” he adds.
The musician further explains that because of advanced technologies artists usually don’t sit together and create music. “At the recording studios, singers, instrumentalists and musicians come separately and perform their parts,” he says adding that even at the musical concerts the music and the voice of the singers are pre-recorded. “That is almost like cheating the audience,” says Niraula. “We intend to give our audience the pleasure of listening to live music which is rare these days,” she adds.
Aavaas started his musical journey at a very young age. He came to Kathmandu to learn music when he was a teenager. “My parents did not understand the importance of music in my life. Learning music professionally was a rare thing back in those days,” he says. Yet, stubborn to pursue his passion, Aavaas went to many places in India to learn music from professionals. “Music is like a deep sea. There is no end to it. And the more I learnt, the more I became inquisitive about this form of art,” he explains.
Niraula, on the other hand, had a different kind of struggle. She was born and brought up in Manipur and her parents encouraged her to take up music professionally when they realized their daughter had what it took to become a singer. “I sang many Manipuri songs for a band and was also involved in making a few albums there,” says Niraula. “One of the songs I sang for a Manipuri movie became very popular,” she exclaims. Then she got married and had to come to Kathmandu where her musical career was put on hold.
In 2007, Aavaas went to North East India for a musical research. “I wanted singers and musicians for Paleti who were working with Nepali music abroad,” he explains. “That time, many praised Niraula’s voice but I wanted a more experienced singer. So I never met her,” says Aavaas adding that he then found Shantanu Kumar Limbu at a village in Manipur. “He was working in his farm when I met him but I asked him to sing for me,” says Aavaas adding that he fell in love with Limbu’s voice immediately and requested him to come to Kathmandu.
Limbu and Aavaas then started working in Kathmandu at Nepa-laya. Limbu knew that Niraula was a good singer and had come to Kathmandu after she got married. Limbu introduced Aavaas to Niraula and that was how they met. “We asked her to sing a Manipuri song in Kathmandu for one of the musical events,” says Aavaas. “Nobody understood the lyrics but the audience, musicians and the instrumentalists were mesmerized by her voice,” he adds. That was in 2007 and Niraula has been a part of Nepa-laya since then.
Niraula says that this opportunity came at a time when she was beginning to worry about her on-hold musical career.
From learning pronunciations for various Nepali words to getting to know more about Nepali culture and discipline that Nepali music demands, Niraula worked under Aavaas’s intensive guidance for many years. And now Niraula is ready for another paleti performance.
“The songs we have selected are not love songs or songs about separation that are usually sung at concerts,” says Niraula. “Today’s songs will reflect the feelings of Nepali community as a whole which I hope will touch the audiences’ hearts,” she concludes.
Paleti starts at 6 pm on August 25, Friday (today) at Nepa-laya in Kalika Marg, Kathmandu.