Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Changing Tunes of Deusurey SUBASH RAI

After the elaborate festivities of Dasain barely a fortnight back, Teohar/ Diwali, an important festival of the Nepali Hindu community, will be upon us within a few days. The festival, as everyone knows, plays out over five days, with each day having its own importance, and each day’s celebration having its own significance and even melodies. But most of us know of Teohar only for two days - Deusi and Bhailo, which fall on the third and fourth days of celebration.
These two days are also noticeable in the changes and modifications seen in the way they are celebrated. While the rituals for the other three days remain more or less the same, talk to the elders, and one will hear immediate complaints of how Deusi and Bhailo no longer ring as true and earnest as they used to the past.
Bhailo falls on the half-moon of the month of Kartik [around October] as per the Vikram Samvat calendar. On this night, Bhailinis [girls] sing Bhailo after offering prayers to Goddess Laxmi at dusk. Earlier, in the morning, they mke offerings to the Cow. The Bhailo ritual continues till the next morning, although girls no longer stay out singing Bhailo that long any more. After sunrise, the day is meant for Gobardhan puja  in which oxen are worshipped and then the menfolk march off playing Deusi which continues till the next day’s dusk.
“Deusi in earlier days used to be only for fun and entertainment,” recalls 69-year-old Som Bahadur Subba of Saureni, East Sikkim. He remembers carrying a Madaal and Jhyali in a group of 10-12 men [probably the entire male population of his village] and “playing” Deusi starting from the home where they had gathered.
“Chanting Deusi for half an hour, we used to sing and dance in jheurey taal for another two hours,” Mr. Subba recalls, adding that jaanr and rakshi with selroti and masu-ko-bhutuwa were the main source of energy.
After daan/ dakshina is brought in front of the Deusey, the Bhattauney [team leader] used to start giving aasish [blessings] which used to last for a minimum of half an hour. “Depending on the quantity and ‘quality’ of the daan [money, rakshi, jaanr, sayapatri ko mala and eatables], the aasish’s timing used to be extended or curtailed,” winks Balaram Rai of Lumsey. After aasish, again singing and dancing continued till the drinks and treats were polished off.
“We used to play around four hours deusi in one house which meant sunrise by the time we were done with the third house,” recalls Mr. Rai with a loud laugh. Another reason they covered such few houses in a night was because of the longer distances between houses at the time when people did not build homes cheek by jowl like nowadays, he adds.
“After finishing my house in Lumsey’s 5th Mile, we had to walk in the dark night without light for more than a kilometer towards 6th Mile to my friend’s home,” recalls Mr. Rai. The group had to disperse after sunrise because they all had to go to their homes of their respective sisters to receive bhai-tika.
According to them hardly, any cash was collected playing Deusi and on some occasions, the team leader would keep all of it for himself.
Nowadays, the duo rue, “Deusey and Bhailey have been commercialized. Very few elders play Deusi anymore.”  The duo reiterate that only young people are seen singing Deusi nowadays; for cash, they add. As per them the young deuseys hardly chant 10 minutes per house which enables them to cover 80-90 houses per night.
“Traditional musical items like maadal and jhyali have been replaced by guitars and congo and this could be the reason we find huge differences/ changes in the tunes and lyrics of Deusi-Bhailo at present,” they comment.
It goes without saying that the elder deuseys are not happy with the present form of Duesi and Bhailo, especially the ones which play out like musical extravaganzas with lip-syncing, sound systems and blaring CDs from the terrace of the buildings.
They are however not all about blaming the younger generation either. “They [the younger generation] must have shortened the proceedings because people have hardly any time to listen any more. Nowadays, people are seen busy playing marriage or entertaining guests during Diwali and not so much celebrating with each other,” comments CB Chettri of Lingdum. He believes that some the people treat Deusey-Bhailey as a headache/ nuisance which is probably why most families, especially in urban areas do not even open their doors for Deuseys and Bhailey.
The trio maintains that while changes and modifications are expected, even necessary, and hasten to add that some traditions must be conserved in as close an approximation of the original as possible for future generations.

Some of the noticeable differences in lyrics of Deusi as shared by some elders:

Old form:
Aah hai zhilimili zhilimili- deusiri ram
Aah hai key ko zilimili- deusiri ram
Aah hai phula ko zilimili- deusiri ram
Aah hai hajur ko gharma- deusiri ram
Aah hai barsa din ko- deusiri ram
Aah hai chadh parva- deusiri ram
Aah hai manuna vani- deusiri ram
Aah hai ayuin hai deusey- deusiri ram…

Present form:
Zilimili zhilimili- deusurey
Key ko zhilimili- deusurey
Phula ko hoina- deusurey
Batti ko zhilimili- deusurey
Steel ko chaamchi- deusurey
Uncle/aunti lai samjhi- deusurey
Aayeko hami- deusurey
Bhainsi ko kilo- deusurey
Key saro dhilo- deusurey…

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