Friday, November 10, 2017

Newah American Buddhist Association (NABA) formed

Rabin Man Shakya

With the objective of acting as a bilateral forum for promoting Newah arts, culture, traditions and festivals and promoting Buddhism related activities in Nepal as well as in the US, Newah American Buddhist Association (NABA) has been set up  recently in Kathmandu.

Maintaining friendship and cordial relations between Newah Buddhists of Nepal and of the US will be the prime concern of the Association.

NABA is to champion the cause of raising Buddhist awareness, disseminate principles of non-violence and peaceful coexistence.

NABA's establishment recently will be guided not only by the objectives of promoting Newah heritage but also by creating a forum that is dedicated to act as a bridge between Newah Buddhists of Nepal and the US.

Dr Rabin Man Shakya has been nominated as the president of the Newah American Buddhist Association while Mr Dil Ratna Shakya is the general secretary of NABA.

Likewise, Associate Professor Dr. Sushil Bajracharya, Mr. Swaraj Shakya, Mr. Siddhi Ratna Shakya and Naveena Shakya have been nominated as the members of the NABA.

It is to be noted that NABA offices are located both in Kathmandu, Nepal as well as in Portland, USA.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shatabdi Purush Joshi and Others Felicitated in Kathmandu

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
President, Newah American Buddhist Association

At a program organized at Hotel Yellow Pagoda in Kathmandu by Mettagaar (House of Friendship - in Pali language) recently, three prominent Newah personalities were felicitated.

The Mettagaar program kicked off after illuminating twenty five traditional Bodhi Matas.

Those felicitated were Man of Century Satya Mohan Joshi, poetess Narayan Devi Shrestha and Ven Vichhu Kondanya Mahasthavir.

As a matter of fact, Shatabdi Purush Mr Joshi has been honored and felicitated many times and in many ways, but  Mettagaar felicitation was a unique and unprecedented  honor for the renowned scholar of Nepal Bhasa and Newah culture.

(Shatabdi Purush Satya Mohan Joshi with journalist Dr Rabin Man Shakya at the program.)

Mr Joshi was honored by wrapping a Khata, traditional Newah Lhasa Sahu red cap, Jama, Tash Ya Washa at the program.

On the occasion, Mr Shanta Ratna Shakya, convenor of Mettagaar also handed over Mettagaar Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr Joshi.

Likewise, Newah poetess Narayan Devi Shrestha was bestowed the title of "Paa Meela". It was the Immediate Past "Kumari" (Living Goddess) Matina Shakya who handed over the honor to poetess Shrestha.

Similarly, Ven Vichhu Kondanya Mahasthavir was decorated with the title of "Aggadhammadeshaka" at the same program.

Mayor of Kathmandu Bidya Sundar Shakya, Newah indigenous leader Malla K Sundar, former Newah ministers were among the distinguished guests at the program.

Speaking on the occasion, prominent Newah litterateur Bhusan Prasad Shrestha underlined the need for preservation of Newah culture and traditions.

Shatabdi Purush Mr Joshi threw light on the history of Newah culture and Buddhism and expressed the view that a number of Newah luminaries including Bhrikuti and Arniko had gone to Tibet centuries ago and had disseminated ideas of Newah culture and Buddhism.

On the occasion, Shatabdi Purush Mr Joshi felicitated different Newah personalities including journalist Dr Rabin Man Shakya, Associate Professor Dr Sushil Bajracharya and physicist Dr Mahendra Man Shakya by wrapping the Khatas on them.

Prominent Newah singer Bhriguram Shrestha, former colonel of Nepali Army and singer Purna Bahadur Shakya and Annapurna Gyanmala Bhajan Khala presented songs and bhajans at the program conducted by Ms Pratisara Sayami.

The news about Mettagaar felicitation of distinguished Newah personalities was covered by Bodhi TV, Nepal Bhasa Times and Jhigu Swaniga daily newspapers.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First North American Regional 'World Newah Organization' Meet Held in Canada

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

One and half year after Second World Newah Convention was organized in Baltimore, USA in March, 2016 by the World Newah Organization (WNO), the First North American Regional Conference of the WNO jointly hosted by Canadian Newah Guthi (CNG) and Newah Cultural Society Alberta (NCSA) was successfully held in Mississauga, Canada.

The fact that more than 200 distinguished Newah guests from different parts of North America and Europe took part in the regional WNO meet in Mississauga  was a testimony that WNO is keeping the ball rolling for championing the cause of strengthening and uniting  the Newahs across the world.

The First North American Regional Conference of the WNO was jointly inaugurated on September 2, 2017 at the Preet Palace Banquet Hall, Mississauga by Ambassador of Nepal to Canada, His Excellency Kali Prasad Pokhrel, Member of Canadian Parliament Hon Ms. Sonia Sidhu, president of WNO Season Shrestha and Prof. Dr. Tom O'Neil by illuminating the traditional "Twadewa" (brass oil lamp). At the beginning of the program, the VIP guests were welcomed  by Pancha Kanya with Dhimaya Baja music.  

Delivering a keynote address, Ambassador of Nepal to Canada His Excellency Mr. Pokhrel highlighted the importance of Newah culture and heritage in shaping Nepalese identity and the contribution of Nepalese Canadians to preserve and promote Newah culture in Canada. 

Likewise, Hon Ms. Sonia Sidhu expressed the view that the North American Newah conference would definitely help unite Newah people living in North America to preserve, promote and practice Newah cultural heritage. 

Newah scholars, academicians and delegates from US, UK and Canada like: Dr. Maheswar Baidya, Prof. Dr. Tom O'Neil, Prof. Dr. Christof Emmrich, Pramesh Shrestha, Samyukta Shrestha presented their papers on promotion of Newah culture and heritage, multimedia, Nepalese immigrants scenario and so on, whereas host organizations representatives Bimal Shrestha and Dr. Hemanta Joshi threw light on the activities of their organizations to promote Newah culture in Canada. 

The three days long conference was focused on promotion and preservation of Newah culture and heritage. 

Delegates had the opportunity to interact with the paper presenters. 

Earlier, CNG president Prakash Lal Pradhan welcomed all conference delegates and special guests in the formal inaugural session. 

The conference, with the theme of "Uniting Newah people and practicing, preserving and promoting Newah cultural heritage" concluded with four points "Mississauga (Toronto) Declaration 2017" addressing promotion and preservation of Newah culture and heritage, strengthening partnership among North American Newah organizations and stand in solidarity with "Save the Newah Valley Campaign." 

The regional meeting was attended by WNO senior vice-president Daya Shakya, Newah Organization of America president Mrs. Babita Shrestha, Nepa Pasa Pucha Amerikaye president Mrs.  Saroj Prajapati and many more from US and Canada. 

A special conference souvenir publication "North American Newah" was also brought out and released on the occasion. It was also decided to organize the Second North American WNO Regional Conference in the US. 

According to the organizers of the conference, the main objective of the regional World Newah Organization meet is to unite Newah people living within the North American continent and abroad in order to promote and preserve Newah cultural heritage ( culture, traditions, language, arts, cuisine, attire etc) for current and future  Newah generations.

Newah people's demographic presence is already strong and effective in North America. The top priority of the WNO and other regional organizations like Newah American Dabu, Newah Organization of America, Nepa Pasa Pucha Amerikaye, Canadian Newah Guthi and Newah Cultural Society Alberta should be to focus on uniting Newahs across the globe by preserving and promoting Newah culture, heritage and Nepal Bhasa. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Kathmandu: One of the Worst 10 Polluted Cities of the World

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Portland, where I have been living for several years  is not an ideal city as far as pollution is concerned, but still it is a great and green city and no comparison with Kathmandu, which is gaining notoriety as one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world.

 Very recently, my son Ranjan was in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Also, one of my American friends Chris Jentz, was in Nepal for a couple of weeks. Luckily, nothing happened to them and they got back to the U.S. without any health problems. But, when some Nepalese living in America go to Nepal, some of them catch diarrhea, stomach problems and other health issues because of deteriorating pollution and water. 

Chris was not very happy about the worsening environmental condition of Kathmandu. "Pollution is the number one problem in Kathmandu", Chris told me, adding that the city is very crowded and smoky. "The air that people of Kathmandu breathe and the water they drink are making them sick," said another Oregonian, who also was in Nepal recently. 

Here in America, Nepal evokes images of a pristine Himalayan country on top of the world. But that image is slowly fading away from the minds of the people because of facts and figures related to pollution in Kathmandu. Many Oregonians and Portlanders who I know have been to Nepal, while they like the natural beauty, Himalayas, arts, culture and architecture of the Kathmandu valley, they also complain that the main problem with Kathmandu is the dirt and the dust. During their stay in Kathmandu, they frequently complained of sore throats and itchy eyes within a few days of arrival in the temple city. 

Kathmandu is a major tourism, business and commercial center of Nepal, a major destination for passenger busses and freight trucks. Its hilly geography acts as a mixing bowl that traps the dangerous compounds emitted by construction, vehicles and industry. 

According to the latest report, Kathmandu is the seventh worst polluted city in the world, followed by Kabul, Accra (Ghana), Tetovo (Macedonia), Faridabad, Cairo, Dhaka, the other three worst hit polluted cities are Ulanbatour, Karachi, and Ghaziabad. 

Kathmandu's pollution index stands at 98.73%, whereas Kabul is at 102.61%, Cairo at 96.28% and Dhaka at 95.81%. 

Fine particles emitted by vehicles (especially diesel powered ones), dust and dirt from road construction, building of homes can penetrate deep into the lungs, according to doctors. 

The people of Kathmandu have been fighting an uphill battle against the deteriorating environment of Kathmandu, perhaps never to win. 

Lots of people, motorcycles, cars, trucks, busses, contribute to local air pollution. It is to be noted that the population of Nepal is about 2 million. Kathmandu is probably the only city in the world where the people walk on the streets together with cars, motorcycles, stray cows and dogs. In the past ten years, the number of vehicles on the streets has risen about three-fold. Like-wise, in the past two decades the number of vehicles on Kathmandu's streets has risen ten-fold, which is very alarming for a city having very narrow roads. 

The Kathmandu metropolitan area has air quality challenges, not just with well-known air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, but with a host of other less known air toxics too. It is to be noted that Kathmandu was in socio-economic and political turmoil for the last two decades as the metropolitan city did not have any elected mayor for the last twenty years. 

Needless to say that the future of Kathmandu depends on the clean air and better environmental conditions. Hopefully, the newly elected mayor and his team will work hard to make Kathmandu less polluted. 

The fight for Kathmandu's better environment, however,  must not be confined to the responsibility of the mayor and Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) alone, it is also the overall responsibility of the government and major political parties of Nepal to make Kathmandu better again by enforcing and enacting tough laws and rules  to make Kathmandu less polluted. Despite the fact that there  has been a lot of hue and cry about the pollution in Kathmandu, unless some tough and strict legal steps are not enforced, the problem of pollution will not be solved.

(All the photos used in this article are by Ranjan Man Shakya who was in Nepal not long ago.)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Yet Another Epitome of Concocted News Story

Rabin Man Shakya

Journalists and mass media should always disseminate factual information for the protection and promotion of citizen's fundamental rights and the freedom of expression and opinion. Journalists and mass media should engage in objective, fair, decent and trustworthy journalism. Remaining firm to the principle of objectivity, journalists and mass media should disseminate factual news and balanced opinion.

These are just some of the excerpts from the Journalists Code of Conduct 2016 formulated by Nepal Press Council.

But as a matter of fact, code of conduct for journalists formulated by the Nepal Press Council has always been a showpiece only. Nepal's journalists have published biased, one-sided and concocted news stories numerous times. Many journalists in Nepal do not care about the ethical requirements while doing journalistic assignment.

Kantipur's journalist Ujir Magar  was colluding with the then banned Maoist Communist Party when he totally fabricated "a field reporting" about a jail break by the Maoist insurgents by digging the tunnel at a prison in Gorkha. Even though it was a field reporting, the journalist never went to Gorkha for collecting information about the jail break and made up all the story materials in Kathmandu.

The news story was published in the Kantipur as per a planned propaganda or strategy, Magar has conceded, according to media reports.

The jailbreak news story appeared in the Kantipur newspaper 16 years ago under the byline of Ujir Magar and dateline of Gorkha. This is simply bizarre,  simply unacceptable and outrageous.

Ujir Magar has conceded -- the jailbreak news in Gorkha was a fake and concocted story -- in a book "Ansha" which was released recently in Kathmandu amidst a function by former prime minister and Maoist leader Prachannda.

The jailbreak took place during the insurgency period. Well, that was the time when Nepal was descending into a maelstrom of political violence perpetrated by the government side as well as the Maoist insurgents. The question arises: Why did the Maoists use the newspaper and the reporter for publishing concocted story ?

It looks like there is the freedom  of spinning the yarns and concocting the stories, and the most interesting part is that neither the reporters nor the newspapers ever asked for apology or even a correction for committing journalistic misdemeanour.

Magar's conceding of concocted news story touched a raw nerve because it combined simmering concern over media ethics with wider fears of journalism's connection and affiliation with the Nepalese political parties.

Historical experience shows that the ethical errors were made by a startling array of Nepalese journalists on numerous occasions and no sorry, no apology, no correction. Why ?

The revelation of these kind of fake and concocted news stories has raised questions about the credibility of the Nepalese journalism. This is not the first example of concocted stories in the Kantipur. It is to be noted that fabricated and concocted news stories have been published in the Kantipur a number of times.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nepa Chhen Organizes Ani Choying Concert in Portland

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya, Advisor, Nepa Chhen.

A concert by spiritual singer Ani Drolma Choying "Healing Melodies from the Himalayas" was organized by Nepa Chhen - a nonprofit Nepalese community organization in Oregon - at Central Lutheran Church, Portland on June 18, 2017.

Daya Shakya speaking on the occasion

Under the theme of "Unity and Hope", the Himalayan melodies concert sponsored by Nepa Chhen was amazing, unique and unprecedented. That was the conclusive view of some of the audience - both Nepalese as well as Americans - about the concert.

In fact, it was not just a concert. Charya dances performed by the artistes of  Nritya Mandala Mahavihara, Portland was also presented before the start of Ani Choying concert.

The unique Charya dance is performed by the Bajracharya Guvajus at the Buddhist Mahaviharas of the Kathmandu valley during the important ritual and religious ceremonies of the Shakyas and Bajracharyas.

The unique and amazing Charya dance on the occasion was performed by the artistes of Portland's Nritya Mandala Mahavihara: Helen Appel, Anna Shrushtova, Linda Marshall, Stacy Roderica and Alex Hirch.

After the group Charya dance, another fabulous ritual dance "Green Tara" was performed by artiste Uppa Shakya.

A number of Nepalese Portlanders, Nepalese living in other cities of Oregon and numerous local Americans showed up at the concert program of Ani Choying. Also present at the concert program, were officials and activists of Nepa Chhen, Nepali Association of Oregon and NRN NCC USA Oregon Chapter.

The other members of the Ani team were Nhyoo Bajracharya, a noted music composer, Ramesh Maharjan, a flautist and Gopal Rasaili, a guitarist.

It is to be noted that Ani Choying was appointed UNICEF Nepal's first ever national ambassador in 2014.

According to Ani herself, her songs are based on Himalayan Buddhist tradition. The day on which the concert was organized in Portland coincided with the Fathers Day. Ani Choying wished Happy Fathers Day to all the audience, adding "But a mother is the best friend of kids and that a mother faces a lot of agonies raising her kids."

On the occasion, Ani presented a song "Aama Aama Bhaner Hunna" dedicated to the mothers of the world. It is to be noted that Ani entered monastic life in Nepal as a means of escape from her physically abusive father.

During the concert, Ani Choying gave a spirited rendition of "Phulko Aankhama Phulai Sansar." Judging by the songs presented during the concert, it is quite obvious that there is unprecedented softness in the voice of Buddhist rockstar nun.

Ani's songs in the concert were basically meditational melodies. Her song "Batuwa" was very compassionate and thought-provoking.

Likewise, during the concert, Ani also chanted "Om Mani Padme Hum", the Bodhisattwo of compassion.

No doubt, Ani has become a house-hold name in Nepal for her famous melody "Phulko Aankhama". Among 12 pop albums to her credit, some were also for sale during the concert.

Addressing the concert, Buddhist rockstar nun Ani said that her team is spreading word of wisdom of Lord Buddha through spiritual music.

Lord Buddha was born in Nepal and we are proud of this, she said adding "Rather than harping on it, this is the time for the Nepalese to do some soul-searching and ask themselves how far we have translated and implemented the Buddhist philosophy into our day to day practical life.

The program host on the occasion was advisor of Nepa Chhen (NC) Daya Shakya who said that it was an honest endeavor of the Nepalese community organization to provide a glimpse of Nepalese culture to the Portlanders.

According to CNN, Ani has performed around the world -- including to an audience of 20,000 in Tibet last Easter -- counts superstars like Tina Turner and Tracy Chapman among her fans, and her biography "Singing For Freedom", first published in French in 2008, has been translated into 15 languages.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ani Choying, others felicitated in Portland

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Advisor, Nepa Chen

A program was organized Wednesday,  June 14, 2017 by Nepa Chhen, a non-profit Nepali community organization based in Portland, at Nekusing Memorial Theater, Portland to honor a cultural team from Nepal which consisted of Ani Drolma Choying, a spiritual singer and Nhyoo Bajracharya, a noted music composer.

Nepa Chhen president Rajesh Maharjan with Ani Choying

Other members of the cultural delegation are Raman Maharjan, a flute player and Gopal Rasaili, a guitarist.

It is to be noted that Ani was appointed UNICEF Nepal's first ever national ambassador in April 2014.

NAO president Ganga Sharma and Ani Choying

Under the theme of "Unity and Hope", the team is planning to perform a concert "Healing Melodies from the Himalayas" at the Central Luthran Church, Portland on June 18, 2017.

President of Nepali Association of Oregon Ms Ganga Sharma, president of NRN-NCC-USA Oregon chapter Diwakar Maharjan and president of Nepa Chhen Rajesh Maharjan felicitated the team members by wrapping Khada on them.

Similarly, Ms Helen Appel of Nritya Mandal Mahavihara, Portland and others also felicitated the team members by wrapping the Khadas.

Ani Choying singing during the event

Addressing the program, Buddhist rockstar nun Ani Choying said that her team is spreading word of wisdom of Lord Buddha through spiritual music.

Lord Buddha was born in Nepal and we are proud of this, she said adding "Rather than harping on it, this is the time for the Nepalese to do some soul-searching and ask themselves how far we have translated and implemented the Buddhist philosophy into our day to day practical life."

Speaking on the occasion, noted musician Nhyoo Bajracharya who is also one of the judges of the Nepal Idol, a Nepali reality TV singing competition, underlined the need for internationalizing the Nepalese music and songs.

On the occasion, Ani Choying gave a spirited rendition of "Phulko Aankhama" and some other songs while flautist Raman Maharjan played a musical tune of "Rajamati" together with guitarist Gopal Rasaili.

Dinner was served at the end of the program which was attended by about 50 Nepalese Portlanders and some American guests as well. The Nepa Chhen program was conducted by its advisor Daya Shakya.

Nepa Chhen advisor Daya Shakya speaking at the event

NRNA Oregon Chapter president Diwakar Maharjan greeting musician Nhyoo Bajracharya

***Portland based writer Dr Shakya is the former associate editor of The Rising Nepal.