by Maharani Lamsal
KATHMANDU, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- More than 50 years after it was written, the tale of an impoverished Nepali young man who went to Tibet of China to make his fortune still remains one of Nepal's top selling books.
"Muna Madan", the epic poem written by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, one of Nepal's greatest literary figures, has been translated intoseveral languages, including German, Russian and Korean, and even in Braille.
It also marks the end of the Sanskrit influence on Nepali literature and the ushering in of modern romantic movement.
From Nov. 12, Nepalis at home and abroad will begin observing the centenary of Devkota, who was born on Nov. 12, 1909 and died on Sept. 14, 1959.
Literary festivals will be held in Nepali capital Kathmandu and the United States and celebrations will continue till the end of the current Nepali calendar year, mid-April, 2010.
Devkota, who was also formerly Nepal's education minister, is most loved for the epic "Muna Madan".
It is the story of a young couple, Muna and Madan, who are separated due to poverty. The husband, Madan, is persecuted by the moneylender when he is unable to repay the loan he had taken.
Humiliated beyond endurance, Madan goes to Tibet to make his fortune there, leaving his wife Muna and elderly mother behind.
Though he makes money while returning, he falls ill on the way and is deserted by his Nepali companion.
But a Tibetan nurses him back to health and he is once again able to continue with his homeward journey.
However, to his indescribable sorrow, on returning home, he finds both his mother and wife have died, due to grief over the rumor made by his companion that he has died on the way back.
The epic is still in demand in Nepal's bookstores. It appeals to readers even today because it still reflects the Nepali society.
Every year, hundreds of Nepalis go abroad in search of jobs, leaving their families behind, for mid-east and Malaysia etc. LikeMadan, they too are hounded by moneylenders and while abroad, many fall ill and die.
"The story also drives home the point that money does not bring happiness," said Narendra Prasain, founder member of the Devkota Centenary Celebrations Committee, which is holding an international literary festival in Kathmandu in spring as part of the celebrations and awarding Nepali writers.
"Writers from Russia, the UK, U.S. and India would be taking part," Prasain told Xinhua reporter on Thursday.
Six years ago, "Muna Madan" was made into a film by Nepali director Gyanendra Deuja. The following year, it became Nepal's entry for the Academy Awards, the second Nepali film to be vying for an Oscar in the foreign film category after "Caravan" by French director Eric Valli.
Though the film did not win, the epic remains evergreen in Nepal.
"We are planning to dramatize the epic during the centenary celebrations," Prasain said.
Though Devkota never visited Tibet in China, Muna Madan remains his bond with it. Currently, a statue of the poet, unveiled in 2001, graces the Nepali consulate in Lhasa.