The tradition of Music: Gunla Parva

Published On: August 8, 2019 01:06 PM NPT By: Dipendra Rokka

KATHMANDU, Aug 8: The Guthi members of Lyaku Manandhar Samaj are making early morning pilgrimages with their traditional musical instruments to the Swayambhunath Stupa every day as the Holy month of Gunla Parva kicks off from Friday in Valley. In Newari Language ”Gun” means Ninth and “La” means month which is celebrated on the ninth month of Nepal Sambat Calendar.

Mainly this musical festival is dedicated to Lord Buddha and the entire month is spent on his devotion”, says Amrit Narayan Manandhar, a music teacher and the member of Lyaku Manadhar Samaj. The Gunla Parva is mainly celebrated by the Buddhist Newars of the valley. During the holiest month of Buddhist Newars visiting shrines, chaityas, playing Gunla Baja and chanting Buddha prayers are considered auspicious. Gunla Baja is the most essential part of this festival which consists of Dha, Taa, Nyaki, Bhusya, and Chuchya.  

The musical groups and Guthis like Lyaku Manandhar Samaj were preparing hard for the festival. During the month-long festival, all the instrument players get a chance to play and the Guthi itself provides the accommodation facilities. According to Amrit Lal Manandhar, the event is costly as Guthi has to bear all the expenses from the practice sessions to all the daily expenses during the festival. “Young kids hardly participate as most of them are busy studying or working and most of them are taught only in leisure time”, says Manandhar.

Practicing these traditional instruments takes time and a lot of hardship and can’t be learned in a day”, says Manandhar as he has spent his 25 years learning and teaching these musical instruments. “We faced a lot of hardship as the selected 30-40 members were taught in a single room and we hardly slept in our homes”, recalls Manandhar. According to him the only change so far is that earlier they used to play Shehnai (Muwali in Newari) while this instrument is replaced by Karnes, Kanat and Trumpet these days. “The reason behind this is the group stopped playing the Shehnai and we are forced to hire musicians from the local musical band”, he added.

Visiting Lokeshwar, Rato Machindranath, Nala Karunamaya and Swayambhunath are considered holy. Meanwhile, the Panchadan also falls during the month where people offer alms.

 26 years old Nirakar Manandhar became a member of the Manandhar Samaj as he was fascinated by the traditional instruments seen on the local television. Spending 16 years, playing these instruments, he is enjoying his culture and motivates other youths to participate. The culture is evolving and the young generation should adopt these norms and values from their ancestors and should transfer these to the future generation, if not, then this culture will extinct, says Nirakar Manandhar.

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