Deusi Bhailo

Megha Rana
Megha Rana
Megha Rana is a third year student pursuing BA Prog from Jesus and Mary College. She is a researcher in the Indigenous. She belong to the Gorkha community. She is passionate about diplomacy and international relations.

Bhailo and Deusi, collectively titled Deusi/Bhailo, are traditional folk songs carolled during the Tihar (Deepawali and Yama Panchak) festival in Nepal as well as in Darjeeling and Kalimpong of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Uttarakhand and some other parts of India among Gorkhali/Nepali diaspora. Tihar is a five-day Hindu festival celebrated in which Bhailo and Deusi are sung on the 3rd (Laxmi Pooja) and 4th day (Gowardhan Pooja) respectively.

Bhailo is performed by girls and women on the night of Lakshmi Puja and is called Bhailini whereas Deusi is performed by boys and men on the following night and are called Deuse. They go around the local area in traditional attires and instruments, singing in every home, blessing them and in return received with gifts, food and money. 


There exist two major stories behind the legacy of Deusi/Bhailo, having variations among different regions and ethnic groups.

The two stories are given as:

  1. Vamana and Bali

In accordance with Hindu mythology, King Mahabali, the great-grandson of Hiranyakashipu was a tender-hearted and quick-witted Daitya king of Patala (subterranean realms of the universe). After defeating the Devas and their king Indra, he affirmed the throne of Devaloka (heaven). Then the Devas sought help from Lord Vishnu and he appeared in his dwarf priest avatar, Vamana before Raja Bali during the Ashvamedha ritual. Known for Raja Bali’s generosity Vamana demanded three feet of land and unquestionably King Bali agreed. Vamana placed his first step which expanded covering the whole Earth. The second step claimed the Devaloka. As there was no place for Vamana to place his third step, the king offered his head to Vamana and immediately Raja Bali subsided to Patala Loka. King Bali then requested Vamana, to be able to levitate to Mṛtyuloka (the world of the dead). Lord Vishnu granted King Bali to ascend to Mṛtyuloka for five days on Yama Panchak. 

In reverence of Mahabali's magnanimity, the people started performing Deusi. The word Deusire is said to originated from the words Deu and sire, translating to give and head, in Nepali language. In Deusi and Bhailo too, a verse in the song refers to King Bali.


  1.  King Bali Hang and the Magar soldiers

According to Mr Nabin Khadka, one of the most renowned names in Nepali Folk Songs, the tradition of singing Deusi started with the Magar Army. In annals of the old narratives, the Limbuwan kingdom was ruled by a pious Yakthumba King Bali Hang who spent most of his time performing dharmic rituals. One day while performing a yajna, an enemy nation attacked but the plan was thwarted by his loyal Magar soldiers who after the enemies fled chanted, “Deusurey Failo…. Deusurey Failo…” which meant Deusurey - “We”… Failo meant “Saved” [the kingdom], in Magar language. When this incident came to the king’s notice, he ordered the army to tell the story of brave Magar soldiers who saved the King and his people, going door to door. Since then the practice continues till today every year. Gradually this regional culture spread all across the Gorkhali diaspora sung in the name of the great King Bali Hang.


Traditionally men and women sang on two different nights but in contemporary times, combined groups including children are teamed up in the ‘Deusari Team’.  The group is usually composed of a lead chanter/singer and a chorus group and sometimes additional participants such as musicians and dancers with instruments like traditional Mandal and guitars. The entire programme can last from about 10 minutes to half an hour in one house. Then the group moves to another house to perform. The songs sung during Deusi/Bhailo are mostly blessings for the house owner. The team sing about the hardship they endured to reach the house. The lyrics may also contain humorous references to the house owner. In the Deusi performance, the leader of the group sings the main line whereas other members repeat "Deusi Re" after each line. In the Bhailo performance, the whole group sings in a unison. At the end of these songs, the house owner serves food and gifts money which are beautifully curated in a plate lit with diyas, sweets and money. In return, the Deusi/Bhailo team gives blessings for good fortune and prosperity. This culture also transcends to have becoming an important part of the Gorkha Regiment in India, Nepal, Britain, Singapore and other countries with special events and performances in its honor.

 A typical Bhailo/ Deusi song


English translation

Hariyo gobar le lipeko, Laxmi–Pooja gareko

Hey Aunsi ko baro Gai–Tihar ho Bhailo

Hami tesai ayenau, Bali raja le pathako

Hey Aunsi ko baro Gai–Tihar ho Bhailo 

The floor polished with green dung, Laxmi–Pooja being performed

Oh, on the new moon night, on the day of the festival of cows, performing Bhailo

We didn't came on a whim, we were sent by King Bali

Oh, on the new moon night, on the day of the festival of cows, performing Bhailo


In the recent era, through the money collected from the Deusari and Bhailo, the community invests and donates in providing scholarships, education, accommodation to the children for elementary and higher education and also in environmental conservation projects.


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  2. TheDC News Desk. (2018, November 5). The Deusi Story – It Started From The Magar Army. The Darjeeling Chronicle


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