Monday, March 10, 2008

Gaiy Nay with Sarangi - singing traditional Nepali folk songs

Sarangi is a bowed string instrument of India, Nepal and Pakistan. Even though it has its origin in Indian Classical Music - the Sarangi with its accompaniment the Maadal has been pivotal in shaping the folk music landscape of Nepal. in the hinterland where even to this day it is still preserved in it purest form without the influence of modern music.

The Sarangi is synonomous the traditional Nepali folk musicians/singers called Gaiy-Nay {meaning Singer - in colloquial Nepali} - they are an annual event around the foothills of Nepal and the border regions of Sikkim, Darjeeling and Siliguri in the dry winter months of December/January.

The Gaiy-Nay are vocationally farmers by tradition but during the cold himalyan winter nothing grows on the Himalayan slopes bringing agriculture to a standstill - hence to supplement their income and support their families they venture out with their Sarangi to the bordering areas to sing and make some money. They return back just in time before the first showers of monsoon hit the dried and parched himalayan slopes bringing the earth to life and ready for the next round of cultivation.

Culturally the Gaiy-Nay form the bedrock of folk/traditional music of Nepal. It is this practise that puts them in the forefront of upholding a dying tradition and imparting a glympse of a heritage/culture to the migrants who left their homeland long time back. This practise of also similar to the JOGI tradition which deals with a TANTRIC practise.

The following video was shot in JAIGAON while I was on my way to Thimpu/Bhutan and had a stop over at my cousins place.