As we bid adieu
R. K. Pradhan (August 15, 1953 -2018)
Less known of a Rhenock man
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Not a popular political figure, a high ranking government officer nor a big literary awardee yet death of R. K. Pradhan was mourned by one and all when he passed away suddenly. He had been a Synonym for Rhenock as Harish Moktan 'Allare' wrote him to be a talented person, known for his social works. And his demise was a loss for Rhenock. Litterateur Nar Bahadur Dahal aggrieved having lost his friend for 50 years. He had met him during the Shiva Kumar Rai Birth Centenary inaugural function so well conducted by him on 26 April at Rhenock. Thiru Prasad Nepal writes of losing one of the stalwarts from the literary fraternity and mention of Achcha Rai 'Rasik' having passed away on the 15th August 1952. Sumati Chettri pay her condolences to the rare kind and influential person she met during that function at Rhenock. She writes that he would be remembered for a long time to come and shine forever like the pole star in the literary sky for his contributions beyond comparison. In a condolence meeting held on 21 August in the Gorkha Jan Pustakalaya at Kurseong, rich tribute was paid for his warm welcome and support to the Shiva Kumar Rai Pratishthan and the library organizing the said function. Shiva Kumar Rai was born at Rhenock Bazar and a befitting tribute to the writer doing so here.
Years later, it was in one of the early meetings of the Sikkim Newar Guthi in its formative days of 1994-95 that we could know of one brilliant speaker amongst us in the audience as none other than 'R. K. Pradhan of Rhenock'. Whenever we (with Bijoy and Ravi) were at Rhenock for some social function, he used to come forward and welcome/receive us expressing pleasure for remembering our ancestral place. Few years back, we decided to move to our ancestral home at Aritar Rhenock to spend our golden years in spite of the difficulties settling down there having spent major part of our prime life in the comfortable ease of the capital town. Many would not believe it but they were the few to welcome us heartily when I met R. K. and Hari Bhansari visiting the Primary Health Centre there. We were happy in some hope deep inside our heart that we would be seeing each other more often there but not to be so. I used to get their wishes conveyed through my neighbour meeting them in the bazar.
A dedicated social worker, he was seen in gatherings be it of joy or sorrow be it back home or at Gangtok. In that chilly winter evenings of December 13 and 14 in the year 1997, when many from the capital even missed the golden opportunity to witness the brilliant performance of the artistes from Nepal. I well remember R. K. Pradhan among the audience braving the inclement weather coming all the way from Rhenock to express his solidarity with the fraternity like in many occasions later as well. The never ever before cultural extravaganza was possible on the invitation of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Heritage, Government of Sikkim, when the Newah Icon Padma Ratna Tuladhar visited with the cultural troupe under the aegis of the Nepal Bhasha Manka Khala:. Yes, it was on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of India's Independence celebrated in a befitting manner memories of which cherished for a long time to come. Jayshree Pradhan started the year-long celebrations that ended in my tenure as the secretary in-charge in 1998.
We celebrated sighting of a thousand moons by our father Jai Shanker Lall Shresta attaining 83 years and 4 months by organizing the historical Sahasra Chandra Drashanam/Maharatharohan or Jankwa for three days in association with Rhenock Newar Guthi and Sikkim Newar Guthi at Rhenock in May-end 2000. The students of the Newa: Language and Cultural Institute started at the heritage Namthang Kothi by the Sikkim Newar Guthi, had the maiden appearance in the public to show their brilliant performance with Lakhey Dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments including flute and Dhimay baja played by newly trained boys and girls in the procession and in the cultural show held at Sri Krishna Cinema the previous evening. Felicitation of the respected elderly was done while Hukum Chandra Pradhan*, Ganesh Kumar Pradhan and Kumar Pradhan were honoured for their contribution to the society. It would not have been possible for us to organize the celebrations of that magnitude without the active support of R. K. Pradhan, who was then heading Rhenock Newar Guthi with Sunder Kumar Pradhan as Patron while Khagendra Pradhan was the president of the Sikkim Newar Guthi.
Again in 2003 when we observed Gai Jatra (held on the day after Kwati Punhi/Raksha Bandhan) in fond memory of our Buba with the active support of Hukum Chandra Pradhan of Aritar Newar Guthi, it was R. K. and his team in Rhenock Newar Guthi helped in making it a grand success. Outside Kathmandu Valley, it is only at Rhenock that the Gai Jatra being solemnly observed for generations. R. K. had arranged one joint procession for four members including Mohan Prasad Pradhan, Krishna Pradhan, another mother and his mother Harimaya lost during the previous year in 2014. In 2016, Gai Jatra was held for Binod Kumar Pradhan and Hukum Chandra Pradhan. This year it would be for Bidhan Chandra Prakash Pradhan. It is Antyeshti Kriya day for R. K. Pradhan also Gai Jatra day this Monday the 27 August.Rich tribute was paid to the departed souls while Gai Jatra was solemnly performed at heritage Sri 3 Dhaneshwar Shivalaya Mahadev Mandir, Rhenock in fond memory of Bidhan Chandra Prakash Pradhan (1944-2017) and a procession was taken out for R. K. Pradhan (1953-2018), Tara Kumar Pradhan and Buddhiman Pradhan at Rhenock Bazar. Thus the Newah tradition since ages here (Rhenock the only place outside Kathmandu Valley the world over) was continued to be part of our rich customs and rituals.
In 2005 both R. K. and Ganesh had come as guests on the occasion of the Rachna Silver Jubilee Celebrations when the winners of the story-writing competition were felicitated in the presence of dignitaries and literary glitteratti in the conference hall of the Nepali Sahitya Parshad, Sikkim. R. K. was known for being the second (after Ganga Kaptan) novelist from Sikkim for his Neelam written as early as 1978 (reprinted in followed by Antim Upahar (1994/) and Vivashta (2001). He was perhaps the first Nepali in Sikkim to make a movie titled Nirmohi (1990) having tried his hand in producing and directing documentaries like Rhenockko Serofero (In and around Rhenock - 1987) and a short telefilm Anta Kahan? He had also filmed on The Chandra Nursery / Woodland Nursery with Bhishma Pratap Pradhan running the latter. Another was on Ramesh Kumar Pradhan, the first agriculture graduate known for his first orchid laboratory here in 1964 raising Cymbidium-Dendrobium hybrid to bloom in 1968 without electricty. 'It is a monumental contribution to the next generation by passing on invaluable knowledge about the country's heritage.' (Orchids March 2008 American Orchid Society) “It was heart touching to see him breaking down having lost all his works that was more precious to him than his house and property engulfed by the fire in 2004. He strongly believed that something should be returned to the society. In his death an era has come to an end at Rhenock. Recently when we met at Gangtok Manipal Hospital and had a long chat. Bold and pleasing person in him, he did not look that very tired/mellowed.” recollects his relative Dhiraj Pradhan on Facebook.
Like this author, R. K. was also a staunch follower/believer that we should always try contribute something to the society whatever possible, wherever we are, in whatsoever capacity we are placed and in whichever manner possible. He was a dedicated member of Rhenock Bazar Committee and was actively involved taking goodwill of all the section of the population for the overall betterment of the society. Dilli Prasad Adhikari writes, “Yes, our society has lost a promising literary and social worker, indeed.” His demise has been condoled by one and all, be it senior citizen, literary person or journalist – young and old alike.
Ramesh Kumar Pradhan, himself a prominent activist for Nepali language movement from Sikkim, remembers from Kashi that R. K. played a key role in the Nepali language movememt from Rhenock. According to Kapil Mani Adhikari in an article in Nav Prabhat – Parichaya Visheshank (editor Tara Das of Rinchenpong) mentions that from 1973-1975 as a young activist R. K. played an active role in the Sikkim Jan Andolan while in 1983 he went on hunger strike during the Nepali Bhasha Andolan. Never in rat race for honours and recognitions, he has been felicitated by different organizations from time to time and in 2015 the Nepal Newar Guthi (Newa: Dey Dabu?) in Kathmandu felicitated him for his outstanding contributions to the society.
After his retirement in 2012, R. K. was in charge of the Rhenock-Rongli Zonal Guthi as President for Sikkim Newar Guthi with another retired teacher known for his social works Hari Prasad Pradhan as the Secretary. Both of them had come for the Book Preview of The Newars World~Wide – Connecting the Dots : Sikkim held at Rachna Books Gangtok on 23 March that had a global launch on March 26-27 during the Second World Newah Organization Convention 2016 Baltimore in USA followed by another in association with Elohan Publications at the Asha Safu Kuthi at Kathmandu the very next day. Though he is no more amidst us but his memories in the video recorded is available as Opinion of R. K. Pradhan on the Newars in Sikkim on YouTube in this link https://youtu.be/Q7oaCh0zvZ4.
Curious to know whether R. K.'s death on his birthday was merely a co-incidence or otherwise, I googled to find out. As per a survey that the chances is one out of 365 and common to those past 60 years of age with 14 percent probability. William Shakespeare (April 24, 1564 – 1616) and Ingrid Bergman (August 29, 1915 - 1982)were top in the list of such celebraties. Lord Buddha is known to have born, achieved Enlightment and Mahaparinirvan on the same day. No such data was available for our side. Views may differ whether it was lucky or not to die on the birthday but believe it was lucky for R. K. to have passed away thus. The reason being that he has left behind many good deeds to be remembered for a long time to come earning enough of heavenly blessings to find the doors there open for him. We wish him an easy passage through the last journey and his soul rest in eternal peace. We all bid adieu Ragh / R. K.!
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