From the many hidden gems that exist, Bir Bahadur Biswakarma the ‘tungna’ player is one who was lucky enough to be spotted by Sugam Deshar a student of ethnomusicology at Kathmandu University and a member of the folk-fusion band Ma. It was during Deshar’s online search that he landed on amateur videos of Bir Bahadur on YouTube. The thirty-two year old who lost his vision from birth hails from Listikot in Sindhupalchowk. Whilst many may believe that Bir Bahadur learned to play the ‘tungna’ early on, it was only at the age of sixteen that he decided to play tungna instead of the flute. With the belief that the tungna would earn him more money to help him and his family through their challenging survival, Bir Bahadur performed for many and was soon known as the ‘tungna’ player.
Tungna is usually a 4 stringed, sometimes more than 4 stringed instrument, played by plucking. It’s made from a single carved piece of wood and topped with a skin.
Earlier in 2017, Biswakarma performed alongside Kutumba’s music at Patan Museum Courtyard. The tungna player performed a cover of ‘Culcuttey Kaiyo’ alongside Sugam Desar (Tungna), Agrim Lama (Tungna) & Kutumba. By the end of the evening, a total of Nrs 30,000 was raised and handed over to Bir Bahadur Biswakarma.