As we were dispersing after yet another family get-together sprinkled with updates on issues as usual hardly mattered with as such, host my cousin Ravi handed over me a book he received from a guest staying at his Rhenock House recently, thinking I might be interested and do justice to it - thus passing it on I would make the best use of it though not concerning the Newars, the subject I like to write about. I thanked him and shared that a similar kind gesture (from an acquaintance who was here in Gangtok for the Indrajatra Sikkim 2011) few months back while at Kathmandu gave me the opportunity to know the Newa American Dabu and to contribute an article Connecting the Dots covering the events and gatherings during my this soujourn there last June for their annual souvenir Chicago Newa to commemorate the Nhu Dan Nepal Samvat 1134 Celebrations at Chicago, Illinois, USA.
In Youth - days are short and years long But in Old age - years are short and days long.
Pope Paul VI
In the Joy of Giving Week, we had the World Heart Day to give ourselves a look into and take care of that organ in our body as a healthy heart is the secret of a healthy lifestyle. Today, even youngsters are prone to heart ailments. So, it's very important to stay healthy and manage your stress levels by understanding the risk factors - high cholesterol levels, stressful lifestyle, smoking, and lack of exercise - following simple changes in lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle, stress, long work hours, a growing appetite for junk food, excessive smoking and drinking are some of the factors that can make your heart older a lot faster than you actually age.
“Almost half of the 17.3 million annual CVD’s (cardio-vascular disease) deaths occur in women, though the risk is often underestimated. If you ask women about the greatest health problem they face, the majority would say breast cancer. But it is CVD, which poses the greatest health problem for women today. It claims the lives of more women than all forms of cancer combined. CVD is largely preventable. You can ensure your heart stays healthy by following a healthy lifestyle. Your heart is in your hands.”
Every year since 2000, Sep 29 has been observed by the World Heart Federation as World Heart Day to spread awareness about the rising instance of heart disease. “This year’s theme focus on: a life-course approach to the prevention and control of cardiovascular disease (CVD) with a focus on women and children… because healthy children lead to healthy adults and healthy adults lead to healthy families and communities.”
Having learnt that and with the joy of giving this much of awareness shared on that important aspect of our life, we head for the Day for the Elderly tomorrow the 1st October. Me joining the league only some years ago, I look towards my seniors as the Elderly. We celebrate this day and whenever we get the opportunity, be it a wedding anniversary, Jankwa for the Newars that we celebrate at 77, 83, 87, 99 and 101 years of age, some others have 84 years for this and so on. Even the day of retirement after graduating to be an elderly on attaining the age of 60 years (or 58 years), could be such an occasion, if the colleagues care enough in biding him a good bye and a long peaceful life thereafter.
Occasionally, we take opportunity to bring out a compilation to felicitate someone with an Abhinandan Granth for the contributions made during his/her lifetime, especially if it is on literary front. Unfortunately for us, we have to console ourselves with a Smriti Granth if the much adored leaves us beforehand. Some people leave us suddenly in a mishap or some following a massive heart attack. Fortunate are those who pass away peacefully in their sleep. Rest is left to face the life and survive throughout till their end!
I recollect my ageing mother remembering a student thanking her for a glass of water she gave him, was wishing her a peaceful death some years ago. It was quite natural and perturbing to hear of but she – we too - later realized how wise of that boy to wish her so when we hear of the extremes some face with ailments in the old age. In spite of best efforts with medical care and attention, the patient has to suffer a lot the end eluding and plight prolonged as if forever. We are not sure what is in our fate that means a life. The old age is a long journey in itself and one does not know how it will fare after his/her whole life spent good or bad. So, why not celebrate the best way possible in all manners possible.
The International Day of Older Persons is observed on October 1 each year by all UN member-states. It is also a day to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society. On December 14, 1990 the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons as recorded in Resolution 45/106.The holiday was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991. The holiday is celebrated by raising awareness about issues affecting the elderly, such as senescence and elder abuse. This holiday is similar to National Grandparents Day in the United States and Canada as well as Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. The observance is a focus of ageing organizations and the United Nations Programme on Ageing. (Source: Wikipedia)
This year’s theme given by the World Health Organization – “Older people –new power of development - A society for all ages is a society committed to development”. "Ageing is a development issue. Healthy older persons are a resource for their families, their communities and the economy." WHO Brasilia declaration on healthy ageing, 1996. A demographic revolution is underway throughout the world. Today, world-wide, there are around 600 million persons aged 60 years and over; this total will double by 2025 and will reach virtually two billion by 2050 - the vast majority of them in the developing world. Coming back to our topic celebrating the old age, fortunate and blessed are those who have an elderly parents with them, if they care and realize. What could be a better way than to dedicate a day to the Elderly, if nothing else but to enjoy it as a holiday as in some of the developed countries. Thus a day more, it may also be some more of awareness of the need to care for the elderly and be with them. Just a co-incidence or is it innovating a trend this International Day of Older Persons, we see neighbouring Nepal roped in four seniors in an ad for the forthcoming Constituent Assembly Election there - the living legend Satya Mohan Joshi with Rashtrakavi Madhav Prasad Ghimiray (both in their nineties), Til Bikram Nembang ‘Bairagi Kainla’ and Surendra Bahadur Basnet, the first Chief Election Commissioner.
To be Young is Nature but To be Old is an Art.
It was Smarika 2070 the souvenir to commemorate the Pratham Rashtriya Jyeshtha Nagarik Mahotsav, i.e. First National Senior Citizens’ Festival held last year released recently on the 22nd International Day of Older Persons. Its editorial mentions of such a festival for the senior citizens being held by the senior citizens themselves for the first time ever in Nepal and probably the world over was quite a challenging task. So within months of the Festival they thought of bringing out a souvenir to record and keep alive the good work while thanking them all who made this historical event possible but it was not to be so until recently when they could publish it overcoming all the obstacles on theits way. The Festival organized by a committee with Bharatmohan Adhikari as the Convener under the auspices of the Manmohan Smriti Pratisthan, the foundation named after the former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Manmohan Adhikari, with support of organizations like NEPAN, Ageing Nepal and Helpage International that was inaugurated by none other than the President of the country.
With “Longevity: Shaping the Future” as the motto, the Festival had the theme “Let us respect the Senior Citizens, enhance participation, enjoy and celebrate together”. Participation of the eminent personalities, like 94-year young Rashtrakavi Madhav Prasad Ghimiray still contributing in promotion of the literature and another 94-year Sanskritivid Satya Mohan Joshi with youthful spirit that would put to shame many of the youth instilled enough encouragement to the organizing committee to hold a Festival of this magnitude. Edited by Govind Gajurel, the Executive Director of the Manmohan Smriti Pratisthan, the Smarika 2070 is a well-produced compilation that has all the necessary information not only on every details of why, how, when and where the first ever Festival of the Senior Citizens of Nepal was held, but also the important enactments of the Government there has found a place with representative faces of their clan from different zones along with reports and photographs from the news-media. Information on the status of the senior citizens worldwide like every second two persons celebrate their 60th birthday and only a fifth of them get a pension, born in 1896 in the Tennessee, USA Bessie Cooper is the eldest of them all who devotes time to his work and shun bazar food, Japan known as the oldest country with 60 percent of its people above 60 years, babies born in England in the year 2012 would live for 100 years, etc. Another interesting data shared is that 60 percent of the people above 60 years in countries like, India, Ghana and South Africa suffer from High Blood Pressure with only 6 percent of them get medical treatment. Besides information materials like on enactments, rules and regulations framed, possibilities and challenges, United Nations guidelines served profusely, there are some quotations, words to depict for each letter of the alphabet, anecdote and food useful in the old age.
Matching with the magnitude of the First Ever Festival of the kind well planned and executed and to cut the matter short, well compiled and brought out Smarika 2070 Pratham Rashtriya Jyestha Nagrik Mahotsav is a repository of information on the Senior Citizens of Nepal, by the Senior Citizens of Nepal, for the Senior Citizens of Nepal that covers everything one needed to know about - definitely a valuable addition to our Jai Smriti Shodh Granthalaya!