Chhanda Poetry in Nepali Folklore | A Shout-Out

Reading the Claimer and Disclaimer should be avoided to have a less shitty feeling about this article.

Claimer: I the Author am a student of scientific background. I have never done a dedicated study of Chhanda Kaavya and nor am I linked to any surveying institute who have provided me the data. I as an appreciative of the Nepali culture have written this article with the virgin feeling of spreading awareness. This article is not specifically written for the revival of the cultural element but as a message among the youth to enjoy it, be it by bringing out necessary amendments. I take full responsibility for any flaw, misinformation and oblivion to the subject if any and would acknowledge it if brought to my knowledge with love.

Disclaimer: (The less boring segment) The article below is written about an element of Nepali Culture which seems to be fading according to the observations of the author. There is a significant lack of knowledge due to the seemingly unremarkable prevalence of the subject among the majority of the youth in Sikkim (as per my personal study of people around me).

If the content seems unattractive, the reader should still read it, because it’s very important.

Very Important! Yes, you got that right.
It is also to notify that the author loves the readers and he has tried very hard to make this article pleasant.

Well yeah! This could have been typed in Nepali, but friends, I know to read a Nepali script on screen is a pain in the ass. And surprisingly, I am not an exception.

Just kidding. I very much am.

Especially in Sikkim, nothing mind-boggling is happening around to amplify the enjoyability of this language among readers, at least.

Shout outs nowadays are a kind of tradition among us low life celebrities, where a more popular friend shouts out over Instagram for a friend having immense talent and skills, as did some of mine for me.

And honestly, I did become a celeb overnight. Yes, That’s 1000% true. I’m not lying.

So, here of course, as reads the sub-heading I am using my poor English language skills for shouting out Chhanda Kaavya, an important element in Nepali Folklore.

It was a wonderful feeling, to listen my elders and my grandparents when I was a child. They sang me jingles that emerged in us the dreams of existing in the land actually signified by them, made us breathe the air in, which wasn’t from the surrounding nearby but from some different world.

Have you ever heard this jingle?
Tara baji lai lai…
Mama aaye ghoda…
Miju aayin doli…
Papa lyain soli.

Well if you have, your childhood was amazing. And, do you know the saying,
Uilay ko baje ko paaala ma…
Paisa ganthye daala ma…”?

Oh, yes? Wow, that’s amazing.

It is delightfully surprising for anyone who loves poetry to know that our ancestors had a unique technique of harvesting emotions on the pages, yes, using scripts, rhythmically, in the form of chhandas. No wonder why those common poetry pieces like the foregiven examples create a rhythm of a familiar song as soon as we drag our eyes over them.

Chhandas are the set of poetic structures which are associated with the pronouncing of each and every letter of the language to produce a certain specific tune in which an entire poetry is written and by the amalgamation of which the so called Khanda-kaavyas and Maha-kaavyas are framed upon. You must have heard about the famous Muna-Madan.

Muna-Madan is classic Nepali novel which is entirely a piece of poetry. The chhanda used by the Mahakavi is Jhyaure, it comes under the class of Chhandas called Lok-Chhanda. Well, that’s not today’s subject so we won’t head toward that direction.

But it’s a matter to wonder, that why the poetry written by legendary poets like Adikavi Bhanubhakta, Mahakavi L.P. Devokota, Siromani Lekhnath Poudyal, etc. are so demanding when it comes to reading but give a pizza-bite relief when someone grabs the book and starts reading in a mesmerizing medley from the stage.

Haven’t you listened to one? Well, you must, there are a lot of those on Youtube. I’d love to have one of mine over there.

History of Chhanda (The more serious part of the article)

Chhanda in Sanskrit means Delightful. It is analogous to meters in English Poetry but it also emphasizes on the sound while pronouncing to give the correct rhythm to the verse. Chhandas have Vedic Origin and are derived in different cultures like Nepali and Buddhist (Bhutia-Lecha) in different forms and with various modifications as per the taste of writers and readers. That is why, if you carefully listen to the enchanting of the Hindu-Buddhist scriptures you’ll notice different phases of monotony each phase having different tunes. Actually, our scriptures are not boring, if we have the correct knowledge of Chhanda we’ll find that all of them are great beautiful poetry pieces.

It’s amazing to know that all the scriptures which we blindly follow are all masterpieces which failed to lack perfection.

Back to the Bluster

If you have ever been to a Nepali wedding, there is a special segment called Khaado jagaune karyakram where both the parties indulge into a poetry contest and the victor is rewarded handsomely. To win is a great matter of pride and every victory counts, which ultimately makes you a legend. Have you ever heard something starting with,

“Hey raama duiya….
Acchamma suniya…..”

If you have, do let me know in the comments below.

So still today, these types of activities persist in the remote villages quite unaltered by the winds of modernization and globalization. But in the cities where pop-culture predominates the art, our Folklores are suffocating amidst the atmosphere of intense globalization. And to be honest, we would never imagine singing the chhandas among the group of our friends, it’s considered a ‘pandit’ thing nowadays. It’s celebrated only on the stages, occasionally during events like Bhanu Jayanti by reciting some of his works. However, I do find some of the modern chhandas like Jhyaure circulating around Whatsapp and Facebook. But its prevalence among the local Sikkimese folk has been declining and only few are interested on this subject.

So, my approach is that, based upon the wants of this significantly globalized generation, rather than just leaving our culture to die of its present day irrelevance (which I don’t and even we shouldn’t hesitate to accept) to the modern art-forms influenced by the west, would be very shameful. Rather we can intermingle our ideas and add new spices to the old recipe.

After all it’s not about preserving culture, it’s more about enjoying it among us, inside the house, during festivals, amidst our companions, for more years that are yet to come.

To round-off the article, allow me to treat you to a small piece of chhanda composed by the legendary Lakshmiprasad Deokota.


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4 thoughts on “Chhanda Poetry in Nepali Folklore | A Shout-Out”

  1. Delightful article and nicely written by using sense of humor💖. You rightly said that it is not about preserving culture but it is more about enjoying it among us.

    Thank you for enlightening us with your intense knowledge of Nepali culture.

Your thoughts?