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Traditional songs in charity role

Siliguri, Nov. 8: The increase in the number of youths trying to use deusi and bhailo to collect money for charity has given a different character to the traditional Nepali songs.

“We will be raising money to start a study centre in our village,” said Shankar Chhetri of Hatighisha, around 20km from here, reflecting a trend that is picking up particularly in the rural areas.

Even as Chhetri and his friends are rehearsing jhilimili jhilimili deosurey, they are also planning how the centre would come up.

“The study centre will have one or more teachers to guide schoolchildren above Class V. As children in the villages do not have access to private tutors, we decided to make a centre for them,” Chhetri added.

Deosirey and bhailoni are traditional group songs similar to Christmas carols, said to have been started hundreds of years ago by the legendary Bali Maharaj. While bhailoni is sung by women during Lakshmi Puja (Gai tihar or Diwali), deusi is sung by men on Goru tihar (day after Diwali) and Bhai tika. The youths go around the neighbourhood singing, at the end of which hosts offer dakshina (prize money).

The songs, generally dedicated to Bali Maharaj, Lord Rama and other mythological characters, are part of community programmes held over five days from Kak tihar to Bhai tika. Not restricted to specific groups or requiring any training, deusi and bhailo are an integral part of Tihar,the five-day festival.

“Though a lot of adaptations have been made in the traditional deusi songs, there is a kind of awakening among today’s youths and they are resorting to traditional singing though most cannot do it the original way,” said B.L. Subba, the secretary of the Sainikpuri Gram Sabha Samiti.

Despite the new-fangled variations of the songs, Subba is confident that things are changing for the better.

“Our deusi group, like every year, will raise funds through dakshina for various community-based activities. This year, we are raising funds for a library in our village and the youths are a major driving force in the initiative,” Subbba said.

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