Lal Bahadur Pun Takes Up Mission to Preserve Magar Culture Through Songs

Lal Bahadur Pun, a retired Nepal Police officer in his 70s from Myagdi, Kathmandu, is preserving Magar culture through traditional songs. Actively collecting and documenting, he has produced 20 music videos, including the ancient song "Pukhryuli." Committed to cultural authenticity, Pun's efforts extend to publishing a book and collaborating on preserving the Magar community's rich heritage for future generations.

28 February, Myagdi: Lal Bahadur Pun, a resident of Kathmandu originally from Annapurna Rural Municipality-1 Doba of Myagdi, has dedicated himself to preserving the traditional songs and dances of the Magar community, which are at risk of disappearing. Pun, who is in his 70s, retired from the Nepal Police and turned his focus towards social service. He has been actively involved in collecting and documenting old and original Magar songs, such as Sirphule, Yanimaya, Salaijo, Thado, Kheli, and Silo.

Driven by the passion to save his cultural heritage, Pun has produced music videos for 20 traditional Magar songs. In 2017, he released a music video featuring the ancient song “Pukhryuli,” where he even portrayed an old man dancing in an intoxicated state. Pun’s journey to cultural preservation began with capturing the essence of the Magar language, which he remembers hearing during various occasions in his village, including melas (fairs), marriage ceremonies, and traditional events.

“I spend most of my time composing songs in words that are becoming obsolete,” Pun said. “Once the song is ready, I fill in the vocals myself, sometimes collaborating with other artists. Finally, we film the song and release it with a music video.” Pun’s latest project involves filming a music video for an ancient song at Karbakeli, a religious tourist destination in Annapurna-8 Kafaldanda. He has also lent his voice to several Magar songs, including “Kheli,” “Chutke Kheli,” “Silo Vaka,” and “Yanimaya.”

Alarmed by the declining use of traditional Magar songs, Pun embarked on a mission to collect and revive them. “The songs sung by our elders are no longer heard in the villages,” he lamented. “At least through these recordings, future generations can experience this cultural heritage. The rhythm and music of all the songs I create are original, and I strive to maintain their authenticity.” Pun is committed to preserving the cultural identity of the Magar community. He ensures that his songs adhere to the traditional rhythm and avoid modern adulterations. He is currently collaborating with his four cousins to produce a music video for a song in the ancient Sorathi language.

Pun’s dedication extends beyond music videos. He has also published a book titled ‘Ancestral Songs of Magars,’ which features 59 different songs associated with traditional Magar dances. Lal Bahadur Pun’s tireless efforts are a testament to the enduring spirit of cultural preservation. Through his music and publications, he is ensuring that the rich heritage of the Magar community continues to resonate for generations to come.

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