[aka Kusanda, Kusūndu]

Classification: Isolate


critically endangered


Gyani Maiya (2019 film)

Gyani Maiya is a documentary film in the Kusunda language that was produced by Subhashish Panigrahi. Gyani Maiya Sen-Kusunda died on January 25, 2020 in Kulmor village of Dang district in western Nepal, a year and half before this documentary was filmed. (Chaudhary) From leaving behind the life of a nomad to getting married to a non-nomad to raising a family that could not speak her language, Sen-Kusunda wished that the Kusunda language is taught to the newer generation. In her own words, “now none of the Mihaqs (Kusunda people) speak the language. The girls have got married and have left for the villages. Boys are getting married in villages. We left our language and started speaking other languages. It should be taught to others.” The plot of this film follows the story of the Kusunda people – narrated by Sen-Kusunda – who were once a nomadic community and are currently settled in villages. Over the years almost all the Kusundas have left speaking their language. This documentary arguably contains the most detailed video interviews of Sen-Kusunda. Her younger sister Kamala Sen Khatri is the sole fluent speaker of the Kusunda language at the moment. Uday Raj Aaley, who plays a key role in this film has researched about the Kusunda language over the years and has published a trilingual Kusunda-Nepali dictionary.

Anna Belew

Kulmor, Dang district, Nepal

Jan. 1, 2019