From own turf - 9
Five days that was Historic - Part II
Heritage City Walk
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Very few occasion comes like the Book Preview we had at the Rachna Books which was also important as gave us the opportunity to thank them all we wished to since long and they could be present that afternoon. It was a gesture not only to return in whatever little manner it would signify to others but for us it was the rare opportunity to honour them in the august presence of all who mattered. In a way it was also to repay the society what we received all these years to bring out in the shape of this compilation and share what it meant for its writer to be all about. It was way back in May 1982, some 35 years ago to recollect after the same period of nearly 35 years when we some youth had dreamt of some state-wide body like some of the other communities had in Sikkim to help preserve, promote and popularize the culture and rituals, customs and tradition, art and literature, history and heritage that the Newar community was rich and known for the world over. We had propounded and made the clarion call to have this organization under the name and style of Sikkim Newar Guthi. One of them present was Ganesh Kumar Pradhan of Bojhoghari, Gangtok whom we honoured.
In our effort to repay the society what could be better than follow what we have inherited from our rich culture and heritage and made Newa: Varna, Lipi ra Bhasha Parichaya (1996/2001.) It was the occasion to celebrate the age and honour your own parents without whom we would not have been here to see the light of the day on this earth. So, we had organized under the auspices of our Karuna Guthi in May 2000 Sahasra Chandra Darshanam or Maharatharohan that we know in common parlance as Jankwa. It was held at our residence ‘Jaisri’ at Rhenock in association with the Rhenock Newar Guthi and Sikkim Newar Guthi that we held three-day long celebrations some sort of an eye-opener to the society in many ways but mainly that we should pay respect to our parents. The message was well received by the society as well that brought such a huge response and many see this historic occasion that might have inspired to have Indrajatra celebrated to reunite the Newars in Sikkim. The Book Preview had given the opportunity to honour the then president of Rhenock Newar Guthi and present head of the Rhenock-Rongli Regional chapter of Sikkim Newar Guthi R. K. Pradhan, a writer and film-maker from Rhenock.
We are grateful to all who joined us on this great occasion when we had the rare opportunity to invite the leading intellectuals amongst us. Prof. (Dr.) Pratap Chandra Pradhan of the Sikkim University, who had earlier served Tribhuvan University and Banaras Hindu University, was the Key-Note Speaker to deliver the First Jai Memorial Lecture on the Contributions of the Newars in Sikkim. Prof. (Dr.) Diwakar Pradhan from the Banaras Hindu University with a large following of his students and well-wishers in this part of the Himalayas having served earlier in Janata College, Kalimpong and Sikkim Government College at Gangtok presented The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim in an impressive way to win the heart of many in the audience. He found the book to be the trio with Dr. Parasmani Pradhanko Amar Jiwani by his son Nagendra Mani Pradhan* and our own publication Dhumil Prishthaharu (2006) as far as the information provided on the land and people from this part of the Himalayas. We had, thereafter, Newar Hami Yastai Chhaun (2010.) Many would not believe perhaps when I share here that it was, in fact, Dr. Diwakar to suggest me write my experiences to share while we were in our first US Sojourn 2010 and fortunately for us he was here with us to present the work that covered the Sojourn USA 2015 as well.
To speak on the occasion was also the Rhenock-Rongli Regional Head of the Sikkim Newar Guthi R. K. Pradhan, who was accompanied by general secretary Hari Prasad Pradhan of Aritar in support of our efforts since our early days. When we invited R.K., he knew well to tell that our functions had always been a grand one and he must had been recollecting the earlier celebrations held under the auspices of Karuna Guthi, be it Sahasra Chandra Darshanam or Jankwa (2000) or Rachna Books Silver Jubilee (2005) besides some others to cherish thus the memories. We are grateful to all as this time too it was well attended function one could think of with all the prominent Newars in the capital had graced. To do the honour was the Newar Icon Sikkim/India Keshab Chandra Pradhan as the chief guest with the promising talented youthful MLA and chief whip of the Government Bikram Pradhan as the guest of honour besides senior ladies from our family Muma, Thulo Maiju and Sanu Maiju to bless us. It was, in fact, Who’s Who of the Newars in Sikkim though some had regretted to be with us that day due to health reasons or otherwise. Yet it was a grand function indeed to be together for hours till late evening.
It would be unfair on our part, if we fail to mention the name of the person who has been with us right from the very beginning and all these years since we presented our Vikasko Goreto Grameen Proudyogiki – Kam Dam Dher Gyanka Satheek Sujhauharu which had three editions besides CD Rom to be the first ever for a Nepali book the world over in 2001. Enquiries are still pouring in that make us think if we should bring out its improved edition yet again as the book is equally relevant even today as regards the knowledge it imparts about low-cost tried, tested and proven rural technologies by eminent scientists and institutions in the country and neighbouring Nepal in a simple way profusely illustrated in Nepali. He was also there with us for celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the Rachna Books with the Rachna Katha Anushthan 2005, a compilation of 25 best stories to represent contemporary Nepali writing based on a year-long competition held on the occasion. He is none other than Dhiraj Pradhan, the man behind and elder brother of Sunil and Bikram Pradhan. Recently concluded Ninth Lampokhari Tourist Festival could be the best example of their love, dedication and contribution to the village that has changed yet again the fate and features of that part of Sikkim known for the heritage Silk Route and now fabled The Chandra Nursery from the days of yore.
A word of thanks goes also to the Sikkim Express and our readers to accept my Thinking local column all these weeks and years together. I wish I could share these in Nepali news-dailies as well as they too have been supportive to my writings. Some books are in the pipeline and the present work boosts us to bring them out too, if not for any other purpose for the sake of documenting them what I have been able to write all these recent years. Bikram Pradhan mentioned about the Government supporting such efforts also and we have these ready if they come forward this time too as we had the Chief Minister’s discretionary grant graciously for the Vikasko Goreto sixteen years ago. Thank you Talk Sikkim - Sikkim’s Most Read Magazine for covering the event under their Newsmakers page captioned All about the Newars. It was the Elohan Publications of Nepal with the Layakoo fortnightly and some five other periodicals to come forward and extend necessary help to have the Book Launch Nepal while the Sandhya Times has been co-operative from early days. Nepalonline.com and friends in Sikkim, Nepal and the US have also shared some beautiful pictures and videos have been a tremendous support to our efforts in reaching and connecting world-wide.
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Our visit to Nepal this time was the first after the Nepal Earthquake 2015. We thought it befitting to pay (here a few lines in) tribute to those who lost their life and property by visiting these place in a City Heritage Walk though we had passed by some of the historical heritage sites while arriving in the capital. Every time we are here, we make it a point to visit these places. During our Sojourn Nepal 2014, quite busy attending the marriages, coming home one late evening it was suddenly realized that we had not done our usual visit there. So, we thought it better and decided to go out there. We took some pictures and it was few months later that most of the historic monuments were razed to ground and severely damaged whatever escaped such a wrath on 25th April and 12th of the following month. This time too, one fine morning we thought it worth-doing - to see right from Hanuman Dhoka premises with Kal Bhairav to Basantpur Durbar Square offering prayers at all places from Kumari Ghar, we come to New Road passing by Bhugol Park that landmark to have been visited long time back (with friends from Birgunj to see the Coronation or the Marriage Ceremony of King Birendra when a cavalcade with the Royal couple riding a well-decorated elephant passed through the wide road in front of the Singh Durbar. Later, I was inside the Singh Durbar or the National Malaria Eradication Programme office at Kamal Pokhari seeking employment with a MSc degree in hand but only to add to my frustration and for the better back home in Sikkim.) While we took some pictures visiting these places to treasure the memories, duly taking care not to shoot the sites damaged as many have done enough right from Dharahara. We took some pictures at Sundhara and cross through the market inside the Kathmandu Mall to reach for the Akashe Pul to walk along the paved footpath. Passing by the New Road Gate along the footpath to the Mahakal temple looking over Tundikhel Maidan, Ratna Park (now with free Wi-Fi helped it collect revenue with hopping sum of over Rs. One lakh a day from the entry fee) and wide stretch beyond from another Akashe Pul, i.e., overbridge. We reach Bir Hospital and through the lanes of Maha Boudh we reach Asan full of morning spread of green vegetables that reappears in the evening again. We offer our prayers at Annapurna Mandir or care to pass from the left the Ganesh Temple every time we pass through this place that we do at least once a day in our almost daily visit on way to Bhotahiti or Kamaladi for some shopping or to take a cab for going elsewhere.
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‘It is from books that wise people derive consolation in the troubles of life.’, Victor Hugo said. Personally it was historic occasion in the sense that we were able to bring out a book (in English) after a long gap since we experienced Sikkim: Three Decades towards Democracy in 2005. The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim is dedicated Celebrating 150 Years of the Newars in Sikkim. Right from the Book Preview here on the 23rd March, Book Launch International at Baltimore USA on 26th followed overnight by Book Launch Nepal on 27th making the five days at three different places as record since it helped us connecting with those who mattered right here in Sikkim and in the Mainland Nepal as well as the world over. Beverly Cleary aptly said, ‘If you don’t see the book you want on the shelves, write it.’ And the book is written for all to document whatever possible befitting the occasion for which it was meant. We are ever grateful to all who made it possible for us and more so to those who supported us buying a copy of this Limited Edition book!
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names, quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim is available at Rachna Books 9733-102304.