Sikkim Newar Guthi - A Retrospect
So Far So Good
who has been associated with the Sikkim Newar Guthi right since its inception as
the friend, philosopher and guide in different capacities throughout and
as a mentor and inspiration to many like this author.
Wish he could preview this article too like many till recent past but for his health which
he and his wife Shanti Pradhan may recover fast and live a long life together to motivate us all.
It was way back in 1982 that the clarion call was given by us (this author with Ganesh Kumar Pradhan, Hare Ram Pradhan and Dhan Bahadur Shrestha among many friends and well-wishers like K. B. Pradhan*of Hotel New Kwality, Shiva Pradhan*of the Gangtok Weekly, L. N. Pradhan* and Rudra Mani Pradhan of Universal Publishers and Printers, our own Rachna) through an inland letter dated May 27. The message read, “Realizing the need to protect and promote literatue, tradition and culture of us Newars in Sikkim we felt it necessary to initiate an organization under the name of 'Sikkim Newar Guthi'. When some of our friends consulted families in Gangtok and its vicinity we realised that this is the demand of the time.”as mentioned by Dr. Bal Gopal Shrestha in his book The Newars of Sikkim : Reinventing Language, Culture, and Identity in the Diaspora - the first ever scholarly work based on research studies done in 2004 and published in 2015. Not only here in the capital but from different parts of Sikkim and from all quarters, there was a good response to the proposal that we the Newars should also come together and have a state-wide body to look into the affairs.
The concept of having a Guthi was, otherwise, nothing new for the Newars in Sikkim as they had one at Rhenock alias the Black Hill since the days of yore. Taksari Chandrabir Newar and his brother Taksari Laxmidas Newar made Sikkim their new-found home on the invitation of the power that time. Sri 3 Dhaneshwar Shivalaya Mahadev Mandir established by him to knit the society together at Rhenock Bazar continued to be the venue to share whim and woes of the people. “The Newa Guthi used to sing devotional songs from religious scriptures like Geet Govindam and Dash Avatar in Nepali and Newar languages once in a week....” Dr. Shanti Chettri wrote in the paper titled Sikkimma Sahityako Sfuran ra Pragati for the Madan Samman Vakhyanmala submitted on the occasion of her being awarded Madan Samman at Varanasi in 2016. Further, Taksari sons Rai Saheb Ratna Bahadur Pradhan and Babu Durga Shamsher Pradhan carried forward activities broadened under the Chandra Dramatic Club much before the Apatan Sahitya Parishad (1950) till the advent of Ramlila era around same time. Rathyatra used to be observed on Janmashtami much later also while Gai Jatra (the only place outside the homeland Kathmandu valley) still continues with great fervour and renewed zeal every year in memory of family members departed during the year past.
Such was the impact of the clarion call that the message ramified the whole of Sikkim entirely when it was thought prudent enough for the then government to go all against it swung into action. The year 1994 saw the change of the government which was well aware of the aspirations of the people and that such a demand could no longer be ignored and kept in abeyance any more. The fire ignited in 1982 was still in embers smouldering somewhere within as some of the Newars reportedly assembled at the residence of Daya Prasad Pradhan* at Tadong to come up with a Newa Guthi with his family members in 1993. With the new government set in, it was deemed fit to move a proposal (by some senior retired bureaucrats so that it might not be scuttled and to save our service holders being victimized in whatsoever manner) in order to have a proper body under the name and style of Sikkim Newar Guthi same as the one propounded in 1982. Accordingly, the proposal submitted to the Government was finally approved in November 1994 vide Registration No. 689/LR/94. Mohan Pratap Pradhan* was the founder-president with Keshab Chandra Pradhan as vice-president, Govind Prasad Pradhan as general secretary and Bhim Singh Pradhan* as treasurer. Bhim Raj Pradhan* the then Law Secretary to the Government of Sikkim assisted by his deputy secretary Bijoy Pratap Pradhan did the onerous task of drafting the Constituion of SNG. The yeomen task done by sowing the seed of SNG conceived in 1982 by us - also acknowledged by Daya Prasad in his book - an important aspect in the annals of the Newars in Sikkim but is, unfortunately, missing from the pages of its history. It had taken 12 long years to sprout and germinate subsequently leading to the formation of SNG at last!