Ratyaulī- Musical Sexual Socialization at Ghyachok
School curriculum does facilitate sex education in Nepal. However, the fact that girls are more comfortable receiving information about sex and relationships from their guardians (Acharya, Simkhada, Van: 2009) recommends us to seek for other familiar spaces. Various indigenous communities of Nepal have such learning spheres, where sexual socialization and some form of education is happening in presence of music. I am proposing to call these traditions Musical Sexual Socialization. Ratyaulī is one such tradition. It is a musical gathering performed at the bride-groom’s house. As the groom, escorted by male members of the family, goes away to bring the bride, females attending the wedding sing and dance at night till he returns. It is prevalent among hill-dwelling Indo-Aryan as well as Mongoloid communities and its form varies. However, the sexual tone of these gatherings is particularly common.
The paper reflects on this tradition and inquires on its significance as a sex education sphere. The reference is from Ghyachok, a Gurung village in Gorkha, West Nepal. It draws on a portion of ethnographic research with which I assisted over the period of three years (2015-2017). Here, ratyaulī is observed primarily as a fun-making space for women. Married women explore and exchange various sorts of emotions and expressions in their gathering through singing, drumming, dancing and mimicking. Their songs cover a wide range of subjects, from romance, sex and power struggles within the family to politics and life philosophies. In their night-long plays, adult and elderly women sing, dance and mimic sexual activities with a masked – jokara (Joker), a fellow woman dressed as a man. Meanwhile, the younger attendees shyly or gallantly participate in everything that happens within this communal sphere.
As women are the primary participants of this musical sexual socialization, it is embedded in issues of gender as experienced by Gurung women. It is a liminal space where women negotiate their gendered identity. This tradition has largely shaped how young community girls perceive their gender and understand sexual and reproductive health.
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