Music from the Himalayan Kingdom
If you are from Nepal, you know this song. If you have been to Nepal, you would have definitely heard this song. If you know someone from Nepal, you might probably know this song.
Resham firiri (रेशम फिरिरी) is a very popular folk song from Nepal. Young ones or elderly, village people or city dwellers, traditional, old fashioned or modern, you will hear this song in almost every occasion when Nepalese have to share happiness, sing and dance.
Lets begin. The purpose of my writing this post is to inform about this song and explore how this song reflects Nepali life and culture. Being someone from Nepal, my purpose is to inform people in other countries, though our own Nepali brothers and siters might like it as well.
I checked with various sources in the internet. It is believed that this song was collected in the villages of Pokhara by Buddhi Pariyar (father of Dharmendra Sewan, Nepali Tara, First Runner up, First Edition) and was first recored in Radio Nepal. The song was sung by Dwarika Lal Joshi and Sunder Shrestha. Tirtha Bahadur Gandarba is also attributed to collecting and singing this song. As this is a folk song of Nepal, it is hard to say whether a single person composed or wrote it. Usually, folk songs are composed and sung by the village people. People sing folk songs while doing everyday work, while walking up and down the hill, in fetes and festivals and this way the songs remain rooted in the society. Folk singers and musicians, pick up the tunes, collect the lyrics and arrange the music and subsequently record them. So, it will be difficult to say exactly where it started from and who actually composed it.
The song’s lyrics goes as follows:
In Nepali (नेपालीमा)
रेशम फिरिरी रेशम फिरिरी
उडेर जाउँ कि डाँडामा भन्ज्यांग,
This is unofficial English translation courtesy of various people in the internet.
While we find this standard lyrics in many original versions of this song, there are plenty of additional lines usually added to this song when people sing this song. I even found people using different variation within this lyrics as well.
Trekking guides version of this song is:
Resham Firiri, Resham Firiri
I am a donkey, you are a monkey
This are the satyrical lines for the trekkers when trekking guides and porters are working like donkeys and trekkers (tourists) are hopping around like monkeys.
Meaning and Interpretation:
The lyrics of song is composed of pair of lines. The first verse, Resham firiri is repeated through out the song after every other pair of lines. The first line (in the pair) usually does not make much of the sense. While those are like metaphors, the second lines talks about the main theme of the song. In my interpretation, the song is about love, one boy and a girl and how the boy is trying to convince his beloved. There are other interpretations as well. The people living in the high mountains/hills have many difficulties in life and through this song, those elements are expressed.
This song is representative song for the people of mountains, hills and villages. During feasts and festivals, it is common for people to sing this song and entertain themselves. This song is also common song for introducing Nepali tradition and culture to foreigners through singing this song, performing dance and playing instrumental version. Foreigners during their stay in Nepal will hear this song during various parts of their tour, either trekking, sight-seeing, cultural shows, parties, and several social activities.
The original version of the song uses the following musical instruments:
Sarangi (violin like Nepali musical instrument)
Madal (Nepali traditional drum)
Basuri (Nepali flute)
The modern versions use several other musical instruments like guitars, keyboards, drums etc.
Now, let’s hear, watch and learn about several versions of the song.
Here is the fairly original song. I couldn’t figure out who sang it. If it is original duo by Dwarika Lal Joshi and Sunder Shrestha or Tirtha Bahadur Gandarba.
Here is another beautiful version by Satish Maharjan and Lochan Bhattarai.
Here is the version by Praveen Gurung and friends.
Here is another version by Pemba Chhoti Sherpa
Here is another slightly poppish version.
Here is the Resham Firiri by group of International volunteers and artists. These songs were recorded and performed as part of project to support building schools for children in Nepal. For more about the project, please visit: http://resammphiriry.com
The pictures, videos and the songs are heart touching.
Here is a swift melodious version by Japanese musician SHiMA(Taro8).
This is by a Japanese lady wonderfully singing it.
Resham Firiri beautifylly sung by a Japanese artist with sarangi.
Resham firiri by some Japanese guys (at the bar) SKIP to 6.25 for Resham Firiri! (if it does not start at that point automatically)
There is also Japanese version of this song Resham Firiri (with different lyrics of course) originally by Mai Yamane. Here is the covered version of the song by a group of Japanese artists. Though it sounds different, the music is from original resham firiri.
There are various intrumental versions of Resham Firiri both by national and international artists.
Here is the version by popular Nepali band, Kutumba.
Here is a beautiful version by Gurkha band, hill boys and us band.
Here is Paulino Pereiro’s violin-ish version I found on youtube, which is equally beautiful and magical. The still pictures represent faces of Nepal.
Here is Nepal Adventurers’ photo-video compilation of Nepal and Trekking in the Everest region with westernized Resham Firiri.
Resham Firiri in daily lives:
Here you can watch two gentle-men with guitar lead children singing beautiful Resham Firiri.
Resham Firiri in CU Boulder
Resham Firiri in by the Gandarbas in the streets
Resham Firiri Cultural Dance and Show
I found many of the lyrics and translation of this song through various websites. I would like to thank all those people in the internet whose names I could not mention here but without you people, I could have never compiled it.
While participating as volunteer for cross cultural awareness programme, I wanted to present this song and sing with foreign students. As I started listening, watching and learning, I thought it would be better to summarize what I have found so that others can also benefit.
Note to the readers:
While I have tried my best to accumulate the facts and tried my best in compiling accurate information, it is still incomplete and there may be many errors in what I have interpreted. I look forward to your suggestions and comments.
20 January 2015: Removed the links to non-existent videos.
26 December 2016: Some refinement. New article going to be published in January 2017.
Image source: Leila Hafzi