EVS Nepal - Let`s play Deusi!
We had plenty of chance to join celebrations in Nepal since there are so many of them that one can`t even keep them in mind. During the festival Tihar (in October) we joined our family to “play Deusi” which ended up being one of the experiences in Nepal, which I will always remember. For me music and especially folk music is something special and very mysterious. It is one of those bridges which can connect people from different cultures and talking different language.
Before the night when we actually left to visit the neighbourhood we didn’t have much idea about what is waiting for us. First we heard about it during one average dinner when our Nepali brother (dai) told us with a wide smile: “Tomorrow you go sing collect money.” So we answered oh ok, well yes ok, but what that is exactly we could not find out. Here nothing is sure, tomorrow can turn out to be after tomorrow and singing can turn out to be dancing. In general here it is very hard to get proper answers to questions. For example asking a question which offers two possible answers is completely senseless. Like “Do you like chicken or buff momos more?” or “Should I turn left or right?” the answer is surely going to be “Yes yes.”
So we only had theories made together with our fellow volunteers about what this Deusi must look like until the night came. The young ones from around the neighbourhood started gathering in our yard and “dai” showed us with big proud the huge wireless loudspeaker that he bought specially for this occasion. One of the young boys lifted this monster on his shoulders, somebody gave a drum in my hands, we switched on our headlamps and headed towards the darkness behind our house. There was about 15 of us, walking downhill in the darkness for long, following each other because on these paths only one person fits and we were helping each other in the labyrinth of steep shortcuts on the mountainside. In the meanwhile the nepali lok geet (local music) was so loud from the loudspeakers that I am sure they could hear it even from the other side of Dudh Kosi. During this walk came to me one of these moments of “Oh my God what am I doing here, it is unbelievable!” No one coming in Nepal as a tourist could ever experience that. We went from household to household, visited 5 different families that night and in each house we spent about an hour. We would stop in the yard, start the music and wake up the owners. First we made the traditional Deusi where my two older brothers played the drum, the leading singer was singing the verses and we had to answer always “Deusire!”. After a while we switched to the modern version and the official Deusi song was screaming from the loudspeakers and we were dancing in a round until the older ones were satisfied with the amount of offered money. Apart from the money they offered uncooked rice, mala (girland made of orange flowers), candles and selroti (a special round bread). This left me a bit uneasy because I didn’t understand what is the purpose of collecting money and often they were pushing the families to give more although I knew they are very poor. The other thing which I didn’t like or understand is that the whole party seemed to be obligatory. If the young ones were sitting down to rest or were about to fall asleep the others would pull them up and make them continue dancing although it was already late in the night. The older boys were pushing the girls and younger ones sometimes quite violently. Unfortunatelly here violence between children or even between parents and their children is very usual and it`s one of the things that I can not get used to and it`s very bad to experience it again and again.
Later, as we understood, the money was invested in making a big picnic in our yard where they cut a young buffalo, distributed the meat, cooked a part of it and gave to everyone from the neighbourhood. I can only hope that everyone was satisfied and everyone enjoyed playing Deusi. For me it was definitely something very special and I could feel part of them as we were going from house to house, dancing and eating selroti together.