Panche Baja (literally – five musical instruments) is a group of five traditional musical instruments played in Nepal during certain auspicious occasions like marriages. A small band of five people (traditionally, called Damahi) can form the musical band to perform in such occasions. The five instruments are:
- Dholaki (Two sided drum, similar to Madal)
- Tyamko (small kettle drum)
- Damaha or Nagara (kettle drum)
- Sahanai (a short pipe instrument) and
- Jhurma or jhyali (cymbals)
Panche Baja – the five musical instruments – Dholki (Top left), Tyamko (Top right), Damaha (Bottom left), Sahanai (Bottom center), Jhyali (Bottom right)
A larger band, with nine instruments, is termed Naumati Baja (music with nine instruments). They always have nine different pieces instruments but, there are only six types of instruments. Naumati Baja consists all the instruments used in Panche Baja with an addition of two pipe instruments; either Narsingha or Karnal. Narsingha is a long, curved horn like pipe instrument, popular in Central Nepal. Karnal, the Narsingha of Western Nepal is not curved like Narsingha. Karnal is a straight and big-mouthed natural trumpet. In Naumati Baja, there are two Damaha and two Sahanai to make a total of nine instruments.
Naumati Baja consist of 9 instruments (6 different types of instruments):
- Dholaki – 1 number
- Tyamko – 1 number
- Damaha or Nagara – 2 numbers
- Sahanai – 2 numbers
- Jhurma or jhyali – 1 number
- Narsiha or Karnal – 2 numbers
In photo above, the musical band is seen holding a Damaha (left), two Karnals and a Tyamko (far right)
Panche baja is a more popular name when traditional music is concerned and hence the general public often confuses a Naumati Baja with Panche Baja. So, both Panche and Naumati are often called a same name ‘Panche Baja’.
Apart from the instruments played in Panche Baja and Naumati Baja, other popular musical instruments like Sarangi (violin-like string instrument), Basuri (flute) and Madal (two sided drum) are usually played for small groups of people.
Due to the increase in the use of western music, the traditional music is slowly being displaced. The instruments used in such traditional music are homemade and are not sophisticated to compete with much advanced foreign musical instruments. Apart from promoting the culture, the musical instruments should also be modernized and mass produced to compete with the external influence.