Following a Folk Tale Through the Himalayas

Following a Folk Tale Through the Himalayas

This Article First Appeared In On March 21, 2023

In a high hamlet, a two-hour trek up a verdant slope beneath ice-clad Himalayan peaks, an argument erupted over a folk tale. Two brothers, Pralad Singh Dariyal, 60, and Hira Singh Dariyal, 77, heatedly debated which nearby village in the Johar Valley was once the home of the story’s heroine. Eventually agreeing on a few possible locations, Hira said that the story, which is sung as a ballad and which he remembered from childhood, was virtually unknown today among the area’s young people. “They’re the YouTube generation,” he explained with a shrug.

“No one even knows how to sing it anymore,” Pralad added.

The voice of Pralad’s wife, Sundari Devi, rang out from the kitchen into the courtyard, where I sat with the brothers and a couple of other people in front of clothing drying on a line and pieces of a butchered sheep drying on a neighbor’s stone-shingled roof. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she shouted. “Some people do remember how to sing it. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s not important.”

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