Where Dhime and Punk collide

Going to Bhaktapur for Feminist Memory Project reminded me of the school trips we used
to take to explore the old settlements. Most monuments and houses took the hit of the
earthquake pretty bad and are barely being supported by wooden pillars. However, the
reconstruction work is well under way, and so the glimpse of hope that it will all get better
is still alive.
Another glimpse of hope amongst the sea of red bricks is Indira Lachhimasyu. She has
made quite the name in Nepali cultural sphere by being the first woman to play the Dhime
bhaja. Not only that, she also trained girls from around her locality and formed an all-girls
group called the Dhime Girls. This is at a time when only boys were allowed to play the
instrument and the idea of a girl even touching it was an abomination. Indira battled the
ancient societal norms with the support of her family and fought to bring change to
empower women.
When we approached Indira ji with our project, she was very exited to be a part of it. She
invited us to her home and showed us her pictures. One of the photographs from her early
days that she had put in a frame was that of her colleagues and teachers who had gone to
Italy as a band to play traditional instruments. Indira ji was barely a teenager and
surprisingly not the only girl in the group. There was another girl beside her in the photo
and when we asked her who that was, it was no other than Sareena Rai, the famous punk
rock musician who founded the band Rai ko Ris! It was so interesting to stumble upon this
connection when we were least expecting it. Moments like this is what motivates us to dig
deeper in history because you never know what you’re going to find!
By Yutsha

Photo: Indira Lachhimasyu Collection\Nepal Picture Library