Monday, September 26, 2016

American Movie "Sold": A Damning Expose` of Girl-Trafficking from Nepal to Indian Brothels

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

A special show of Hollywood movie "Sold", a feature film devoted to the burning issue of girl trafficking from Nepal to the Indian cities was organized on Sept 24-25, 2016 at Laurelhurst Cinema Theater in Portland.

The screening of the movie "Sold" was a benefit show for "Childreach International" to help build schools in Nepal.

A number of Nepalese  living in Portland and the periphery  showed up to watch the movie. Many Americans were also there to support the august cause. Officials of Nepali Association of Oregon (NAO), Non-resident Nepalese Association - Oregon Chapter and Nepaa Chhen were among the audience to watch the movie.

The movie "Sold" which was released in 2014 is directed by Jeffrey D Brown and is based on a novel by the same title by Patricia McCormack. The feature film throws light on Laxmi's (played by an Assamese girl actress) odyssey from rural Nepal into a brothel in Kolkata and her saga of struggle for freedom from the brothel. Emma Thompson, an Academy Award Winner, is the executive producer of the movie.

Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya render the cameo roles in the movie. The good samaritan role of a humanitarian photographer was played by Gilian Anderson. The movie was able to bag at least five prestigeous awards in the US, the UK and Italy.

The movie offers a wide spectrum in terms of cinematographic styles, themes and languages.  It provides a powerful message of soul-searching about girl-trafficking from Nepal to Indian brothels. Fortunately or unfortunately, the movie depicts how the young children are victimized from Nepal all the way to Indian brothels.

Children and young women are vulnerable and susceptible to sexual abuse and violence. The movie successfully and realistically portray grim violence meted out to girl-children in the Indian brothels.

There are a lots of socio-economic and political problems facing Nepal today, but girl-trafficking poses a major challenges for the elected governments of Nepal.

The mere facts that more than 10,000 girls are trafficked every year from Nepal to red-light districts of Indian cities and that more than 200,000 Nepalese women and girls are still languishing in the Indian brothels are testimony of the fact that Nepal's elected governments as well as India - the biggest democracy in the world - have done little to effectively address the girl-trafficking issue.

The major problem of girl-trafficking from Nepal is palpably related to poverty and illiteracy and mainly to the open and free border between Nepal and India.

The movie must open the eyes of the governments of Nepal and India to enforce some effective steps and measures to combat the girl-trafficking.

The act of human trafficking should be nipped in the bud to assure the rural people of Nepal of better security of their family life. The culprits must be punished severely so that the perpetrators of violence against women will not dare to resort to this kind of heinous crime.

Finally, kudos to Dr Manoj Kansakar and Kathleen Hoag  for organizing the movie-show in Portland to benefit schools for at-risk children in Nepal

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Yenya: The Biggest Cultural Street Festival of Kathmandu

Rabin Man Shakya
Advisor, Nepaa Chhen, Portland, Oregon.

Yenya is one of the biggest cultural street festivals of Kathmandu. Not only   the Newah people of Nepal but the Newahs living abroad in different continents also celebrate the Yenya festival in their own way. There was a time when children of the local neighborhood in down town Kathmandu used to knock the door after door during the Yenya festival and used to say,"La Chhaku Wayak Samay Baji, Wal Wal Pulu Kisi."

Traditionally, the Yenya festival kicks off with the erection of Yosin or Linga at Kathmandu Durbar Square. This cultural and traditional ritual is famous as "Yosin Thanegu" in Nepal Bhasa.

Yenya is the biggest cultural street festival in Kathmandu. Yenya means the festival of Kathmandu in Nepal Bhasa, the language of the Newah people. Coincidentally,  Yenya festivities consist of two major cultural events: Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra.

According to historical chronicles, the tradition of Kumari Jatra was launched by Malla King Jaya Prakash Malla in 1756 AD whereas Indra Jatra was initiated by Lichhavi King Gunakama Deva to celebrate the founding of the historical city of Kathmandu in the 10th century.

Kathmandu's downtown areas of Indra Chowk and Basantpur become center of cynosure  with the Kumari Jatra and display of dieties like Aakash Bhairav and Mahankal Bhairav during the Yenya festival. The Kumari Jatra is the chariot procession of the living goddess Kumari, Bhairav and Ganesh.

In fact, Yenya festival, which is a trusted perennial for the Newah people in Kathmandu, signifies the start of the holiday season. It will not be an exaggeration to assert that Yenya is the quintessence    of glorious street festival tradition of the Newah people. No doubt, traditions like Yenya festivities are the cornerstone of Newah civilization. Actually, Nepal is renowned for cultural festivals and ethnic diversity and Nepal is famous all over the world as the land of festivals.

Yenya is also a pot-porry of masked dances of deities, demons and elephant, performances include: Pulu Kisi dance, Majipa Lakhey, Sawa Bhakku, Devi Pyakhan, Mahakali Pyakhan  etc.

Taking a trip down memory lane, I remember the tradition of Nakhatya of the Newah people. Nakhatya is a tradition  which means inviting the relatives and members of extended families for a feast during or after the festivals. Maternal uncle of my mother was from Lagan Tole and we, as kids, used to go to his house at Lagan Tole for Nakhatya during the Yenya and Kumari Jatra during those years. Lagan Tole is one of the places where the chariot procession of Kumari Jatra takes place.

One of the very memorable part of Yenya festival for  me is Pulu Kisi dance which is rendered by the natives of Kilagal Tole which is two minutes walk from Naghal Tole where I used to live. As a kid and teenager in 1960-70s, I along with local kids used to frequent to Kilagal and Bhedasing to have a look of Pulu Kisi, a creature masked as elephant, which I remember, created a feeling of excitement as well as of fear among the kids at that time.

Majority of Newah festivals and Newah values have a lot of historical and cultural significance. In fact, the Lichhavi and Malla eras  were the 'belle époque' of the Newah civilization, the golden age of art and culture in Nepal during the medieval period.

Newahs living in the United States also celebrate Yenya festival in their own way. The mere fact that the Newahs living in different continents celebrate different Newah festivals in their own way is the testimony of the fact that no matter where the Newahs live, they do not and they have not forgotten glorious value of Newah culture and traditions.

Some US Newah organizations do celebrate Yenya festival and other Newah cultural events in a broader community level. For example, Newah Organization of New England, USA  celebrated  Yenya festival in Boston on Sept 17, 2016 by organizing Kumari chariot procession, Lakhey dance, Pulu Kisi dance. Traditional Newah musical instruments Dhime and Bhusya were played on the occasion to create local Newah environment. Likewise,  a program was also organized by Newah Organization of America  in Washington DC to mark the Yenya festival. The main attractions at the DC program were Pulu Kisi dance and performance of musical instruments of  Dhime and Bhusya.

Newah Organization of America, Nepa Pasa Pucha Amerikaye and Newa American Dabu etc are the Newah organizations which are effortful and committed to enrich and enhance Newah value, Newah culture and festivals in the US.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nepali Association of Oregon Organizes Conference of Nepalese in West Americas

Dr Rabin Man Shakya

In an effort to enhance regional and global cooperation for Nepal and the Nepalese, a conference of Nepalese  in West Americas was  organized here in Portland by  Nepali Association of Oregon (NAO) on Sunday, Sept 4, 2016.

Speaking on the occasion, Ganga Sharma, president of Nepali Association of Oregon (NAO) said that northwest jamghat has brought our communities closer and it has allowed us to work together.

Presenting a paper on "NAO Scholarship and School Building Program", Dr Kush Shrestha, coordinator, NAO Education Fund Promotion and Management Committee said that NAO has an education program for Nepali youth from the Oregon Nepali community as well as the rural communities of Nepal.

Speaking about "Role of Commissioner", Mohan Gurung, member of Washington State Commission on Asia - Pacific American Affairs threw light on the duties, functions and responsibilities of a commissioner.

Similarly, dwelling on "Nepal Seattle Society (NSS): Past, Present and Future",  Ganesh Shivakoti, president of NSS said that the mission of NSS is to unite all the people of Nepalese origin in the state of Washington, to preserve and promote Nepalese culture and to foster relations with friends of Nepal.

Likewise, speaking on the theme of "Nepal Cultural Society BC Vancouver at a Glance", Anil Pradhan, president of NCSBC said,"We should also start thinking about our collaboration to the next level so that we can keep our friendship, Nepali culture and heritage flourishing further."

Representing Non-resident Nepalese Association - Oregon Chapter, Dr Rabin Man Shakya, its Education Director,  expressed the view that NRNA - Oregon chapter would not and should not antagonize other local community organizations. But in stead of parroting the meaningless  and needless rants about the irrelevance of NRNA - Oregon chapter,  Dr Shakya stressed the need for going through the statutory provisions of the NRNA - International Coordination Council (ICC) about the NRNA state chapters of a National Coordination Council (NCC) in different countries.

NRNA heavyweight and Nepal's Honorary Consul for Seattle A C Sherpa said that he would support as much as possible for Nepali communities by social services and promoting tourism, healthcare and education for future generation.

Also speaking on the occasion was Master Narayan Gurung, NRNA ICC member, who threw light on  prospects of NRNA as a world body of the Nepalese diaspora.

Making another presentation on "Open University of Nepal - The Road Ahead" Dr Drona Rasali of NRNA, Canada said:"By opening up the access to formal knowledge that is prepared and structured by academics and approved by a university to the masses of people having varying learning needs, conditions and contexts, an open university adds a new dimension to those who can have formal knowledge."

Similarly, president of West America Nepali Association (WANA) Uttam Karki, speaking on the occasion, urged for financial assistance for Solukhumbu Community Center Project.

Likewise, Uma Karki, founder president of WANA said:" A number of social and non-profit institutions are mushrooming in the US, but WANA was created as an umbrella organization to unite all the local organizations in the US west coast."

Speaking on the occasion, president of Nepal Association for Global Cooperation (NAGC) Mani Nepali Paneru asserted:"NAGC is totally different than other Nepalese organizations. NAGC aims to work for promoting worldwide Nepalese solidarity."

Bharat Banskota, general secretary of WANA, while extending vote of thanks to the participants, said:"It would be a great opportunity if our three Pacific Northwest Nepali communities can work together towards some common projects in supporting the underprivileged people of Nepal."

*Also please read: (1) Nepali Association of Oregon: Pioneering Organization of Nepalese Community in Oregon and (2) Nepalese Community Organizations in Oregon: A Short Glimpse

**Dr Shakya, a Portland based writer, is former assistant editor at the RSS, former associate editor at The Rising Nepal and former lecturer of journalism at the Peoples Campus. He is also advisor of Nepa Chhen, a Portland based non-profit and Education Director of NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter.