The street festival picked up last night. The previous day there had been a parade led by an elephant which included representatives from different ethnic groups in Nepal. Lawang marched with the Thamang group. Everyone was dressed in traditional clothing and often the groups sang and danced. The parade finished at a stage at the bottom of Lakeside.
Horn player at the festival
Elephant searching the trash can for treats
Women playing drums at street festival
Musicians and dancers at street festival
Musicians at the Street Festival
Woman dancing at the Street Festival
The stage, we were dismayed to see, was full of seated politician looking people. They were taking turns giving speeches. Maybe the speeches were important but, since I didn't understand anything I was resentful of the fact they were speaking instead of letting the groups perform. I asked one guy if there would be more music. He said, “Each one says, “We don't have much time so I'll just say a few words...” Then they talked and talked so there really was no time for more performances. There were a couple dances but that was it.
Lawang told me there were reps from 5-6 political parties so each took the opportunity to blame others for the electricity shortage problems.
Last evening Kutumba, a really wonderful Nepali music group played. They play traditional music on traditional acoustic instruments but with a slightly modern feel. The musicians and arrangements are excellent. The quality of the music could be played in a classical concert hall, but from the audience reaction, you would have thought they were a popular rock band. A row of young men congregated belting out the song lyrics in a manner reminiscent of soccer fans. They called out requests and jumped up and clapped when they were played.
Rubin, Kutumba flute player
There was one man who got up and danced very well. He danced with the seriousness of a modern interpretive dancer and seemed really to be trying to choose the perfect move to interpret the music.
There were a row of children sitting in front. A couple drunk guys pulled up chairs and put them on the curb in front of the children blocking their view. One kid said something and the oldest drunk guy turned and smacked him. Some security guys came and made them move. Then they decided they wanted to dance. This pissed off the good dancer. He tried to drag them away from the area and then, in disgust, left the dance floor to the drunk guys.
Kutumba dance off
When they tired, he returned. About an hour into the concert Rowshan and I smelled smoke. I thought it was someone having a bonfire using plastic bottles for fuel. The smell got stronger and we realized it was coming from the sound equipment. Then someone else saw and pointed it out to the soundman. A moment later, flames erupted from inside a small metal box. It was the stabalizer. Since they were running all the equipment using a generator, the power went through a stabalizer. Apparently there was too much power. However, since the real electricity had come on, they were able to switch to the city power and continue the concert.
The group has a lovely balance of sweet flute and sarangi music driven by an intense percussion section. Afterwards we talked to the manager who told us they go to different villages and perform as well as collect traditional instruments. The band has over 100 traditional Nepali instruments. They have been around for 4 years.
Walking up Lakeside we came upon a group of ornately costumed dancers in huge head pieces and masks. They were Newari. Later when I confirmed this with Lawang, he said the Thamang also had ornate mask dances but only use them for religious rituals not public performances. He seemed a little disgusted by the Newari using them at a public performance.
Note: We were quite relieved when the Street Festival was over and the streets became empty again. We were also happy to see the return of the trash eating water buffalo which had disappeared during the festival.