The Madal is fading away and so is the folk dance. This is Lalang village’s present scenario where modern music is slowly replacing traditional ones.
And that’s why Lalang village’s mothers and grandmothers have taken up an initiative to conserve their culture.
“We are both learning and teaching others to play Madal. We are also interested in bringing our traditional dancing styles to life,” said 72-year-old Bishnu Maya Rana.
More than a dozen women are coming together at Biruwa village’s Katahare and learning to play Madal, the traditional Nepali drum, since a few weeks.
Many of them have shown interest towards singing and dancing, however, not everyone is able to get a grasp over the Madal.
“In our time, women did not have much freedom. Yet, singing and dancing were allowed on special occasions. During such occasions, we did not play the Madal. It was played by the male,” recalled Rana.
Madal- A male-dominated skill
In old times, men would play the traditional drum and in comparison only a few women in the community could play it well.
“In the past, women did not plow farms and also did not participate in funeral processions. But these days, we have to do everything as there is a dearth of males in the village. Women are slowly assuming all the male responsibilities and roles. We are learning,” Rana said.
Earlier, playing the Madal was assigned to the men of the village but as men left to work abroad, women were left with no choice but to learn their skill.
So now women are making an attempt to learn it. “We want to hand over this precious skill to our youngsters,” adds Rana.
And women are doing it with much passion and dedication!
Rana shares that as soon as her training is over, she’s going to train others in the village. Some ladies have already begin training fellow villagers with whatever they’ve learned at their classes.
“In the past women were dependent on men for playing Madal. Now, we play Madal and sing and dance as we please,” Rana laughed.
Similarly, a Syangja rural municipality has also been training its women to play Madal by joining hands with a local cultural preservation group.
Another trainee Nanda Kumari is equally excited about this experience. Kumari is pretty good at dancing and singing she says. However, she had not idea about playing a Madal.
“Back then, girls were not encouraged to play Madal. Only boys would play it,” recollected Kumari.
“But we are learning to play and we hope that many others will learn to play it from us,” she adds.
“We are learning to play Madal for a variety of songs. Presently we are learning to play Madal for the popular Nepali song ‘Jhim Jhim Sanu Najhimkyeu Pareli,” informed Kumari.
Meanwhile, even Ama Samuha’s women representatives were selected for a training by Biruwa Cultural Group and Biruwa Rural Municipality.
The training is provided free of cost with the goal of reviving deteriorating tradition and culture.
Both the aforementioned institutions opine that if women are taught, children will automatically learn the skill.
“If mothers are taught, it easily passes onto their children. So, we invited interested women, selected from them and started training them. We have been doing such programs aimed at the preservation of folk cultures for a long time,” said Ganesh Rana, Treasurer, Biruwa Cultural Group.
On an ending note, Rana says that schools and colleges should incorporate Madal playing into their curriculum because it is the country’s original instrument.
“I am already old and what I have learned will go with me. If you do not teach the new generation, they will not recognize our culture and traditions. So, playing Madal should be actually taught in schools,” she stressed.