Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Panjaran: An Important Festival of Nepalese Bajrayana Buddhists

Rabin Man Shakya
Advisor, Nepaa Chhen, Portland, Oregon

Nepal is rightly described as a garden of different ethnic communities. Nepal is the land of festivals and cultural carnivals. Festivals  are the important factors that enliven the Nepalese culture and they have added to the cultural richness of the country.

Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana and Bajrayana are the important sects of Buddhism and each sect has its own holidays and festivals.

Panjaran, an alms giving festival, is an important cultural event of the Bajrayana Buddhism in Nepal. Until about 25 years ago, Panjaran was celebrated very enthusiastically with participation of thousands of people. Many important components of festivals like Panjaran are on the verge of extinction. Those were the days when not only kids and teenagers, but thousands of gentlemen belonging to Shakya and Bajracharya castes used to go for taking alms. Not any more. Nowadays, very few people show up for taking alms.

Giving of alms on the day of Panjaran kicks off with offering of alms to Gurju team (a team of household Buddhist priests).

Panjaran is also Panchadan which means giving away five different kinds  of alms, such as, grains and fruit like rice, paddy soya, salt, peas, bananas, radish etc.

Panjaran or Panchadan is a festival of Bajrayana Buddhists of the Kathmandu valley. But there are subtle differences in the ways how Panjaran is celebrated in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, Likewise, Panjaran is celebrated on different days too. This year, Panjaran was celebrated in Kathmandu yesterday (Saturday, Aug 19, 2017). Our family here in Portland also celebrated Panjaran in our own way.

Judging by the Facebook posts, a number of Shakyas and Bajracharyas living in the United States display the idols of Lord Buddha and Karunamaya at their homes and apartments on the day of Panjaran.

Taking a trip down lane memory, I nostalgically remember at our own home at Naghal Tole in Kathmandu, my late grand father and then my late father used to decorate shrine on the third story (chota) of our house with big statues of Lord Buddha and Karunamaya as well as traditional Paubha scroll paintings. As kids, we always used to enthusiastically help our grand father and our father in decorating shrine.

When I was still a teenager, I myself with my friends from Naghal Tole neighborhood used to go for making alms around of Kathmandu dangling big bags on shoulder for putting paddy and rice. Besides paddy, rice, salt and peas etc we were also given money.

On this day, the Shakyas and Bajracharyas prefer to eat Kheer (rice cooked in milk and sugar, cashews, cloves, cardamoms, raisins, coconuts etc). Sadly enough, today, we do not find the same kind of zeal and enthusiasm like we did two or three decades ago.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ban on Khada: A Grand Design?

Rabin Man Shakya

According to a recent news story, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal has banned its subordinate offices from using foreign made Khadas.

Before that, former prime minister K P Oli had vented to his feelings against the use of Khada in an outrageous way at a program organized at the Trihbuvan University.

And not long ago, Prem Baniya of News 24 channel in the "Power News" program assailed those using Khadas with a level of venom rarely seen before, calling them (the users of Khada) "stupid" and urging for the ban of Khada.

Today, Nepal is a secular country. This kind of irrational and not logical demands about ban on Khadas were not brought up even when Nepal was a Hindu Kingdom. The Bahunbadi parties and their stalwarts have forgotten that Nepal is a multi-linguistic, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country.

If the Bahuns and Khas people are allowed to freely use imported dhotis, janai, Teej sarees and lots of  other  imported things, why should there be any ban only on the Khada. The intention is very clear.

I totally agree if the ban is imposed on all unnecessary imported goods, but taking a target only on Khada is outrageous and unacceptable.

There is no doubt that the ongoing 'ban' thing is a part of grand design to destabilize communal harmony in Nepal.

These developments raise a big question as to whether our mainstream political parties are conniving to the grand rehearsal that is aimed at undermining the importance of the religious  and cultural rituals of the Buddhists of Nepal.

Let us be united and let us hope that the Buddhists and the Newahs will never let Bahunbadi "grand design" to succeed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Another Perfect Epitome of Nepotism !

Rabin Man Shakya

Maoists have again moved to centerstage in Nepalese political scenario after Prachanda has been elected Prime Minister by the Nepalese Parliament for the second time. It is to be noted that Prachanda's Maoist Communist Party is only third biggest party in the parliament after the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML.

And by appointing his own  son Prakash Dahal to the post of private secretary of the Prime Minister, the newly elected premier of Nepal has become the perfect epitome of nepotism.

When he was the prime minister for the first time, he committed a lot of mistakes. That is according to Prachanda himself. "I was inexperienced then", he said.

Going by the initial activities of the Maoist strongman, it looks like those mistakes will continue. Prachanda is widely disliked by Nepalese of all political stripes who blame him for having allowed the nation to fall into the economic, political and social chaos.

Actually, the Nepalese people have feelings of intense dislike for all the stalwarts of the mainstream political parties. All of them are good for nothing, the people say. There is a lack of a charismatic and honest politician in Nepal.

Nepal's political process is still in transitional phase. Open chasm and sharp divisions appeared in the mainstream political parties during and after the ouster of K P Oli government. It is an open secret that Prachanda orchestrated the 'coup' against Oli  with the Nepali Congress support thereby agreeing to rotate the PM post for nine months respectively.

The political stalwarts of the mainstream political parties should stop making mockery of themselves by doing stupid things.

There is no duubt that politics is done for power. But politics should be done for the good of the people and the nation as well. But the politicians of Nepal do not care about the nation and the people.

All they care about is the personal benefit and the party interest. For them, the politics has become a lucrative business, not a mission  to serve the people. All the politicians of all the mainstream political parties have not been able to rise above their petty partisan interests. This is a big misfortune for the people.

All the mainstream political parties of Nepal have demonstrated their inability and inefficiency to deliver goods to the people. They are worthless. The political parties are blaming to each other for their failure to deliver goods to the people.

Given the zero performance of the political parties and lust for power of the politicians,  given their  dishonest maneuverings and corrupt activities, rampant nepotism and favoritism, it looks like the Nepalese people are destined to be betrayed by the political parties and their leaders.

Friday, August 5, 2016

"Rato Arya Rani" Tweet: A Bahunbadi Affront to the Newah People

Rabin Man shakya

Many Newah people are venting outrage about a fake person named "Rato Arya Renu" who is disseminating hatred and intense dislike against the Newah people through Twitter.

Reactions were swift in the social media sites to what was widely perceived as an affront to the Newah people.

The intentionally provocative tweet by "Rato Arya Renu" has cast a shadow on ethnic divisions.

What is the intention of Rato Arya Renu? This particular behavior  is suicidal at this point. Some  insane people wrongly think that through intimidations, threats and abusive words, they will silence the people.

But going by the reactions in the social media sites, they are getting exactly the opposite. This kind of   provocation and intimidation is outrageous and unacceptable.

Historical experiences have demonstrated that outrageous acts and remarks have not helped anybody and any organizations.

The language used in that tweet by Rato Arya Renu is full of abusive words and hatredness against the Newah people.

Rato Arya Renu assailed the certain ethnic community of Nepal with a level of venom rarely seen before.

There is no doubt that this kind of outrageous remark is a toxic but familiar political virus that may infect reactions to the ethnic crisis in Nepal.

The recent tweet controversy is just an attempt to perpetuate and deepen ethnic divisions in the country. The need of the hour is: the entire Newah community should be united  and should come forward to wage a war against this kind of provocation. Yes, we must deal strongly with this kind of Bahunbadi provocation.

Well, it is true that the Newah people will not be intimidated by any threats or abusive words.

It is a good thing that a complaint has been filed at the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police, Crime Investigation Division against the above mentioned cyber crime.