‘Audacious traveller’ Ajit’s love for murchunga
ITAHARI: Ajit Baral is a local resident of lakeside in Pokhara. He likes to call himself a ‘native of lakeside’ of Shantipatan, Pokhara Metropolitan City-6.
“We are older than the lakeside,” he said. Baral is very fond of walking. He is a ‘audacious traveller’ in one way. He left for Kathmandu without telling his family members in his early age.
He reached Kathmandu riding his bicycle from Pokhara when he was studying in grade five. Later, his picture was published in a newspaper saying that the child was missing.
Baral’s quest for walking has not been ended yet. Baral is 34-year-old now. He has travelled almost 71 countries of the world. But, Covid-19 has stopped his journey of travelling in the recent time.
He has travelled Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, North and South America on a bicycle. Baral is yet to travel China, Pakistan and Bhutan of Asia. He has travelled to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland in Europe.
He always carry the flag of Nepal and murchunga, a Nepali musical instrument that consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame and it produces the sound like Binayo.
Love for murchunga
He used to study in VS Niketan College in New Baneshwor, Kathmandu. But, he used to live in Boudha, Kathmandu. Baral used to walk more than five kilometres everyday to reach the college not because of lack of money but he did not want travel by bus.
He used to go to college through Gaurighat and Pashupati from Boudha. One day, on his way to college, he heard a soothing sound in Pashupati area. That sound attracted him to that place. So, he followed that sound and saw a sadhu or a holy man in Hindu playing a musical instrument by using his mouth at Mrigasthali in Pashupati.
He really liked that musical instrument. So, he went to Thamel the next day and bought that instrument. Later, he came to know that the instrument was called ‘murchunga’.
Baral searched the history of murchunga and found that it was the traditional musical instrument of Kirant community. He than decided to promote the Nepal’s most iconic instrument in the world.
Baral said that the concept to make ‘mouth harmonica’ and guitar came from this Nepali instrument. ”
‘This instrument is you. You are the instrument. Because this instrument does not work without your breath,” he said.
Baral used to buy a bundle of murchunga at a time. He used to teach about the essence of instrument to the music enthusiasts and also distribute to them. He did not stop distributing the instrument to the people during his world cycle tour also.
He said that he has already taught more than 300 people to play the instrument and also distributed to hundreds of people.
Baral saw murchunga in many countries like in India, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia, Tanzania and Congo among others.
He found the name of murchunga different in different countries. The instrument is called Morchung in Rajasthan of India and Danmoi in Vietnam and Humus in Russia.
Meanwhile, Baral said that he is worried that murchunga is on the verge of extinction even though it is our traditional instrument.
He said that there are three ways to protect our traditional instrument. One is to organise various cultural programmes and to present murchunga with priority. Second is to organize murchunga special muscial programmes and to attract new generation. Third is to use murchunga in traditional songs.
Baral said that online and offline tutorials should also be held on how to play the instrument.
He said that the musicians should play an instrumental role to promote the instrument. “It is necessary to bring the updated version of murchunga,” he added.