The Week’s Cilla Khatry had an exclusive view of the 5th episode of Nepali: A TV Blog, a television series about the broader scopes of Nepali identity, and how our diverse identities connect us as Nepalis. A preview:
Doti, named after Doti River in Dadeldhura was once a part of the ancient kingdom of Uttarkhand in westernmost Nepal. Newars migrated to Doti some 250 years ago and currently there are around 1,391 of them, living clustered in and around the bazaar of Silgadi.
Gobind Prasad Shrestha, president of Doti Newar Society, mentions that though the majority of people residing in Doti are Newars, a lot of them have forgotten their language and culture.
“Our culture needs to be preserved. Many people can no longer even speak Newari,” says Gobind, adding that young people are moving to Kathmandu for higher education and work and opting not to return.
Shrestha points out that if the government took interest in developing the town, then people would want to head back home instead of choosing to settle elsewhere.
Sandesh Shrestha, who is home for a break, points out that there are no cinema halls or even proper TV channels in the district. Simple amenities like these have become a necessity for the youths, and Doti is lagging far behind in such matters.
Another interesting fact is that Sandesh can’t utter a word in Newari. And there are more like Sandesh who sheepishly admit that they can’t speak Newari, either. Like Gobind pointed out, the language is definitely fading away in Doti.
Another interesting aspect about Doti, besides its Newar community, is the Shaileshwori Temple that is looked after by a social worker, Dhana Bahadur Malla. Previously a teacher and an artist, Malla now takes care of the temple and its premises, ensuring it is kept clean and tidy.
“There are two people who work at the Temple but I’m never satisfied with the work others do, and I prefer to do it myself to make sure it’s done right,” says Malla. He’s a nature lover and one look at the temple will show you how hard he has worked to preserve the greenery surrounding it.
Malla is a devotee who can’t think of leaving the temple or the district. His days are spent painting walls, carving new idols of various Hindu gods and goddesses or cleaning the temple area.
Just a few meters away from Malla, Gyame Parki plays the drums at the Tedi Temple, another part of the Shaileshwori Temple complex. Only the Parkis are allowed to play the drums, and it is believed that the sound of the drum awakens the gods.
Although only a few Parkis remain in Doti, it is during the months of Jestha and Kartik, when there are festivals being held, many Parkis return to Silgadi to play their traditional drums.
The women of Doti, on the other hand, are working at constructing roads that connect it to the state highway. Working from eight in the morning to six in the evening, they make Rs 200 on a daily basis. Women are supporting their families because the men are working either in India or in the Gulf.
Radha Bika, who is just 24 years old, has lost her husband and now works as a road laborer to support her family. There are many women like her who work out of a desperate need to support their families. They haven’t had a chance to go to school and so have no other option than to be involved in the construction.
Doti amazes and fascinates you at every turn. Be it the Newars, the Shaileshwori Temple, the temple drum players, or the women of incredible strength who work as laborers, there is something about the place that never fails to awe you.
Nepali – A TV Blog airs on Avenues TV every Saturday at 8:30 am and on Sundays at 9:30 pm. The series, hosted by Yubakar and directed by Tsering Choden, will also be available on YouTube <youtube.com/user/nepalitvblog>