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National Rhyme Day

By Nepali Patro (Sudan Bhattarai Upadhyaya) in National Days .
March 3, 2022

National Rhyme Day. Generally speaking a melody in poems can be called as Chhanda  (छन्द) in Nepali or verse/rhyme in English. As the rule of prose is grammar in the poem it is verse/rhyme. Rhythm is given to a poem through the use of verse/rhyme. The general meaning of the verse is rhythm and rhythm is the basic quality of poetry. Writing poetry in verse/rhyme is a complex task. While rhythmizing the scattered emotions the verse/rhyme is created.  The 8th of Baishakh is celebrated as National Verse/Rhyme Day in the country after Nepal Panchang Nirnayak Committee agreed to celebrate it.

Poet Madhav Biyogi started the “Save the Verse/Rhyme” campaign in 2053 B.S as an initiation to save the use of verse in poetry as it is declining in recent years. To commemorate that same day when the campaign started, National Verse/Rhyme Day is celebrated on the 8th of Baishakh every year.

In recent times, especially in poems, the use of verses has declined. Thus in this perspective Save the Verse/Rhyme day has been introduced. When ecstasy arises from the arrangement of a regular number of characters or quantities, it is called a verse/rhyme. This day is celebrated in order to further highlight the verse style while preserving its culture in poetry, especially in poems. When the volume or number of characters, pauses, motions, lyrics in the poem match the rules, then the verse/rhyme composition is created.

Vedas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata were also written using verse during that time. The verse named “Shardul Vikridita” and “Shikharini” are used a lot in Ramayana and they are Sanskrit verses.  Nepali poetry is composed especially in the rhythm or verse of three sources. First, is the Classical verses from the Sanskrit tradition. The second is the popular folk verse from the Nepali folk tradition and the third is the free rhyme or verse from the western tradition. Classical chromatic, metric, folk verses, etc. are called bound verse. And, what we call prose poetry falls under the free verse.

The verse/rhyme presents poetry as an original literary genre different from other genres of literature. The verse/rhyme makes the poem melodious and musical making the listener happy. In the history of Nepali verse poetry, Shaktiballabh Aryal is considered to be the first Nepali verse poet who wrote the poem “Tanahu Bhakundo” which is believed to have been composed around 1839 B.S. Those two verse Sloka written at that time is considered as the first Muktak written in Nepali. Similarly, “Prithvi Narayan” a poem written by Suvananda Das in 1826 B.S using folklore, is considered to be the first form of Nepali poem.

Poets like Kabi Shiromani Lekh Nath Poudel, national poet Madhav Prasad Ghimire, epoch-poet Siddhi Charan Shrestha, and Bharat Raj Pant gave special priority to the verse/rhyme in their works. Natya Samrat Bal Krishna Sama and Mahakabi Laxmi Prasad Devkota also wrote free verse poems while the latter seems to be unique in creating poetry in all three verse styles i.e classical, folk, and free verse. Similarly, poets like Mohan Koirala and Bhupi Sherchan wrote free-verse poems.

The listeners can be made happy by the use of verse in poems including Muktak etc. Of course, writing a poem to make the listeners happy that too bound in four lines is not that easy either.

On the occasion of National Verse/rhyme Day or Chhanda Diwas, literary programs such as Poems Recitation are organized in various places of the country. In these programs,  poems written using verse/rhye are read aloud. On the occasion of National Verse/rhyme Day (Chhanda Diwas), heartfelt congratulations and best wishes from the Nepali Patro family to all the creators and devotees who practice and like the poems written using verse/rhyme. And here we present an article written by Indira Prasai about this day.

Chhand Campaign and Madhav Viyogi

‘एकदिन नारद सत्यलोक पुगी गया लोको गरुँ हित भनी’

This is the first verse that struck my mind after coming to this world. My mother used to sing this verse over and over again. Of course, my mother did not use to have time after taking care of the household. But when she had free time, she would open an old book kept wrapped in a red cloth and read it.

Maybe that book must have been a special means of entertainment for my mother at that time. Because as soon as she used to touch the book, her face would light up. Tired and exhausted, my mother would open the book and read it, as if forgetting all her exhaustion. That bright face and sweet voice of my mother still resonates in my ears to this day.

At a time when the world had not even imagined television or mobile and YouTube. Even the radio came into our houses much later. This is before the time I was introduced to the words/alphabets.

At that time, I used to think “I will read that book” when I know how to read. But my mother would not even let us touch it. After reading the book, she would wrap it in a red cloth, place it in a special wooden drawer in the worshiping room and lock it. The key to that lock used to be in a big bundle of keys. That bundle used to be tied to a handkerchief. And, that handkerchief was kept in her waist. The book my mother used to keep so safely without letting anyone even touch it, being almost unattainable for us, was its reason for being so important to me. This is also before I entered the world of books.

In fact, it wasn’t until much later that I learned from my father why that book was so dear to my mother. It was because of two reasons. First, it was because she recognized the letters/alphabets from that same book; and another was because she asked for it and brought it as a dowry from her mother. Because of these reasons my mother used to protect that book as a valuable treasure from being victimized by our childhood acts. And when my mother Durga Devi Nepal, showing her indomitable desire and courage, who learned the alphabets from that same book, wrote the autobiography ‘Bageko Khola’ (2072 B.S), I became even more proud of my mother’s favorite book.

I found that it was the famous ‘Ramayana’ written by great poet Bhanubhakta Acharya when I got a little older. Meanwhile, when my father bought another Ramayana book then only I got the opportunity to touch and read it with pleasure. But, I was never able to read it in rhythm like my mother used to. Truth to be told is that I never tried to learn.

I came to know while in grade seven or eight that rhythmic poetry is called a verse/rhyme and there are different types of it. By that time, I was already reciting poems during some of the school’s poetry seminars, and I was also good at writing poems using friends’ names on the pages of autographs. And at the same time, the work of writing love letters for my friends also started. Which was my childhood profession. Because of this, my friends used to feed me during Tiffin time.

During that time, I did read the poems of Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Poudyal, Natya Samrat Bal Krishna Sama, Maha Kavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota, and Bhim Nidhi Tiwari in our school books. But those were just textbooks. And everywhere around me, the prose-style poems were in existence.

But it is also true that I did not find a persuasive way to write poetry using verse/rhyme.

During that time I was also impressed by the discussion saying that the Verse style was an old-style, sung by the old people. Me, too I understood that those who write in verse were considered as “date-expired” writers. I was a victim of that contagious disease and in the new trend of becoming a modern poet, I was moving on the path of prose poetry.

In the years that followed, as I got older and started becoming more mature, the meaning and importance of verse poetry began to unfold before me. As I am getting more information about the most important texts in Sanskrit literature I am deeply saddened by the time I passed without its knowledge. Not knowing the Sanskrit language, not being able to write classical verse poetry, and not knowing classical music have been my great ignorance. But with the passage of time, my eyes have opened and all those memories have become like a mirage on the desert for me. At this point, I can only look back at the past with a dull and greedy look.

In fact, verse/rhyme is the speed of life. Without it, life has no meaning. The situation of the poet without verse/rhyme and the child without a mother are similar. What a stone age was that which kept us away from our lovely verse. I am just saddened by the past.

I think the exclusion of Sanskrit education is one of the main reasons why our society is declining. Another thing is that in order to make human life polite and dignified, children should be given Sanskrit language education, with a focus on literature and verse. In fact, it seems to me that if the society is tied to the rhythm of the verse it can be set free from many kinds of existing anomalies. In order to build a new Nepal, children up to secondary levels should be educated in the English language and science technology as well as the Sanskrit language, traditional culture, moral education, yoga, and natural knowledge as the basic foundation of education. Then only do I believe that the future of our Nepal will be safe and healthy.

My fertile time is almost over and at this time I should not stop the rest of life’s pace by interrupting it trying to learn the ABC of basic verse/rhyme. But I can imagine it now, if I have had an opportunity to get a teacher like Madhav Biyogi back then, I would have definitely become a student of verse. And no one can stop me from being jealous of the lucky youth of the present and future generations. No one can stop me from making fun of those lucky ones, those who have got a positive, simple, calm, talented, and selfless worker like Madhav Biyogi as their Guru.

No one has to worry about the development of overall Nepali literature if every genre of it could get a dedicated, polite, dignified, and disciplined distinguished author like Madhav Biyogi.

© Indira Prasai

National Rhyme Day.

   To Read this article in the Nepali Language please click here.


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