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19-NOV-2009 Marjan Schavemaker

The " Ping" , Nepalese for swing

Less people swinging to the tune of ‘ping’

By Perina Pathak

KATHMANDU, Oct 23 – People in Naikap village, in the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley, collected money with the villagers there to put up a ping, a traditional swing played during the festival of Dashain.

People here collect fund to put up a linge ping every year, says one of the villagers, making a swing. "We are doing this just to preserve the age-old tradition of playing ping during the festival, so that the coming generation do not forget this typical way of celebration."

Swinging on the ping with friends and neighbours is still one of the favourite past times for many villagers during Dashain. But the people in the urban areas have totally forgotten this traditional way of celebration.

Even the few pings built in the nearby villages are different now. Modern pings have replaced the traditional wooden pings. But one can still find traditional Nepali pings in far away villages of the Valley. And this traditional form of celebration is still found more in remote villages throughout the Kingdom where the modern means of entertainment are yet to make inroads.

Dozens of villagers in Naikap waited for their turn to swing on the ping as people of different age groups gather there every day to enjoy the celebration. One of them was 61-year-old Maya Devi Pradhan who still enjoys the ping whenever she gets the chance. "I play ping every year," says Pradhan. "If the ping is not installed here then I go to some other places to play."

Pradhan recalls her younger days when people used to install pings in many places much before Ghatasthapana, the beginning of the 10-day festival. "But, these days very few pings are made and that too depends on the villagers’ donation."

She blames modern entertainment options for waning popularity of this traditional form of entertainment. "It is due to modern entertainment means that people have been distracted from this kind of traditional celebration," says Pradhan.

There are basically four types of ping – linge ping, rote ping, jaate ping and lathare ping. Linge ping is the most popular form of traditional ping as it is also very easy to install. To make a linge ping, four strong bamboos are erected and rope made from Babiyo grass is hung to the bamboos.

Another form is rote ping, which usually has four sitting places and is rotated up and down in a full circle. Though this too is a traditional ping, this has already gained popularity in different fairs in the Valley and even the present-day people are seen enjoying this ping.

Similarly, a jaate ping has two and some also have four sitting places, which moves in a circle. And the lathare ping is hung on tall trees, which is more or less similar to linge ping.

There is no information available when and how the tradition of playing a ping was introduced. But it is believed that once a year a person has to leave this earth and lift the body weight. "There is a saying that if a person leaves the earth once a year, he will go to heaven after his/her death," says Subi Shah, a cultural expert. "This is why people play pings during the Dashain festival."

And it has a more scientific and pragmatic reason as well. As fun, food and fare are the main attractions, people generally eat more during the festival. And it is believed that playing a ping helps one to digest the food.

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