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
Former Lecturer of Journalism, Peoples' Campus.

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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nepali Association of Oregon: Pioneering Organization of Nepalese Community in Oregon

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya

When Nepali Association of Oregon shortly known as NAO was launched in the fall of 2000 A.D., the total number of the Nepalese people in Oregon was not more than 150 people. 

Therefore the establishment of NAO 17 years ago in Portland was a landmark event in the chronicles of Nepalese diaspora in Oregon. 

The founder president of NAO is Raju Mali, whereas Kush Shrestha, Anupama Shrestha, and Darshan Rauniyar are the founder vice president, founder secretary and founder treasurer. Likewise, Bal Joshi, Daya Shakya, Girish Ghimire, Purna Ranjitkar and Urmila Mali are the founding members of NAO. 

Nepali community members at a New Year's Party. 
Ganga Sharma, immediate past president of NAO addressing a function in Portland.
Quintessentially, NAO is a community organization which champions the cause of preserving Nepali cultural heritage among Nepali people, strengthening community bonds and fellowships in the Nepali community in Oregon, promoting Nepal and Nepali causes in the local community, helping Nepali people in Oregon in the time of need and difficulties. 

NAO also aims to help people in Nepal through a monetary as well as in-kind grants. Likewise, NAO also raises, receives and manages funds, charities and donations to carry out the humanitarian causes directly or in cooperation with other organizations. 

NAO is the oldest Nepali community organization in Oregon, and herein lies its historical significance. Just as significantly, however, the 17 - year history of NAO mirrors the trajectory of activities and vicissitudes of a community organization dedicated to the cause of Nepalese people in Oregon. 

No doubt, NAO has developed into a formidable and resilient community organization of Nepalese people in Oregon. New immigrants coming to Oregon from Nepal find it hard to assimilate into American culture and way of living. Cultural assimilation is very important   for the new immigrants and NAO is always lending a helping hand to the newcomers. 

Above all, NAO's efforts and endeavors for fundraising for Nepal's earthquake relief in 2015 was especially noteworthy and commendable. 

NAO has been carrying out a lot of community activities for the benefit of the Nepalese residing in Oregon. For example, a conference of Nepalese in West Americas was organized by NAO in September 2016. Similarly, NAO has been organizing Nepalese movie shows in Portland. Furthermore, NAO continues to host community events to mark the Bikram Sambat New Year, the Bijaya Dashami festival and the summer picnic. 

It's a good thing that NAO is a non-political, non-partisan, and non-profit social, cultural and educational organization. This is more important at a time when a number of Nepalese community organizations in the United States have been contracted by the viruses of political maneuvers, internal bickering and infighting. 

It goes without saying that tens of thousands of Nepalese have made the US their new home. People of Nepalese origin have been living in Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Ashland, Bend, Medford, Grants Pass, and some other cities in Oregon. 

President of NAO Bharat Banskota says: "Geographically, Oregon and Nepal have lots of similarities. Oregon just like Nepal has lots of mountainous areas. The Nepalese can easily bear the winter and summer in Oregon. That is why a lot of Nepalese are pouring into Oregon from other US states." 

"In a small city of Medford, there are six Nepalese doctors working at local hospitals while two Nepalese doctors are also working at a hospital in Grants Pass. 50 Nepalese engineers are working at the Intel office in Portland alone," adds Banskota.  

Banskota went on to say, "The number of people in our community was 400 just 10 years ago, but today that number has surged to more than 800 people." 

That is less than surprising given that global migration is on the rise and also that people are coming to the US through DV lottery. 

There is also no denying the fact that the Nepalese people make up only a small number of Oregon's immigrant population. But, with various Nepalese activities of different community organizations, including that of NAO, Nepalese people's comparatively low demographic presence has  already been felt stronger and more effective in Oregon. 

The role played by NAO in the everyday lives of Nepalese in Oregon is incredible. NAO as the first community organization of the Nepalese in Oregon to cater to the social, cultural and educational needs felt by the Nepalese across Oregon has a tremendous task ahead. 

*Also please read: (1) Nepalese Community Organizations in Oregon: A Short Glimpse and (2) Nepali Association of Oregon Organizes Conference of Nepalese in West Americas.

**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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Keshari Tamrakar passes away

Rabin Man Shakya

ANICHAWATA SANKHARA. As Lord Buddha said all the Sanskaras are impermanent. 

Portland's Nepalese community was shocked and deeply moved by the sad news of demise of Keshari Tamrakar who has been battling lung cancer since 2015.

Keshari was 69 and was in hospice care at her son Sunil Tamrakar's home in Portland, USA.

It is to be noted that late Keshari's son Sunil Tamrakar is the Treasurer of Nepaa Chhen, a local non-profit Nepali organization and her daughter-in-law Srijana Sthapit is the Director of Women's Affairs of NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter.

A memorial service was held on Sunday, April 9, 2017 in the evening at Riverview Abby funeral home in Portland. A number of Nepalese people living in Portland and its periphery came to the memorial service to pay last tributes to late Keshari by offering Jaki-swan and flowers.

Extending the condolences on the occasion, president of Nepali Association of Oregon (NAO) Ganga Sharma said it is a stark reminder of the randomness and fragility of human life.

Present at the funeral service were the officials and ex-officials of NAO, office-bearers of NRN-NCC-USA, Oregon Chapter and Nepaa Chhen.

During the funeral service, Guruju Prajjwal Ratna Bajracharya of the Dance Mandala Mahavihara, Portland,  chanted the Buddhist mantrocharan ritual for the departed soul.

The Nepali community of Portland, Oregon is so touched by extra-ordinary perseverance of Sunil, Srijana  and their daughters Nelli and Selba in the face of deep adversity and sorrow. May you and your family garner strength to overcome the unforeseen situation. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Stop Giving Biased Headlines

Rabin Man Shakya

Lately Nepalese tabloid newspapers and Nepali online media has gained notoriety in disseminating the biased and unfair headlines in their news stories. "Marwaris, Newars among 33 kg gold smugglers nabbed by DIG Silwal (Names Disclosed)" was the headline of a news story published by the SuryaKhabar online portal on Falgun 22, 2073 BS.

The above headline is not only boring, biased, unfair and unprofessional, it is also an epitome of the Yellow Journalism which unfortunately is still rampant in the Nepalese print journalism as well as in the online Nepali media.

It is to be noted that Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police had arrested 12 persons (among 30 involved) and seized 33 kg of gold from their possession at the Tribhuvan International Airport in January.

The gold was flown in from UAE via an Air Arabia flight and had passed undetected through the corrupt airport customs. It was later seized at the Golden Gate of the airport, according to the media reports.

Among the 30 persons involved in the gold smuggling, 17 are Bahuns, 8 Chhetris, 3 Newars and 2 Marwaris. Therefore, it is obvious that the intention of headline of the SuryaKhabar online news is to discredit the Newars and Marwaris in particular.

Giving headlines in the newspapers and online news portals is a big responsibility. But accuracy and balancedness must be taken into consideration while giving a headline.  Giving an attractive and good headline to a news story is a skill, a creativity and an art. Sometimes even a dull news story filed by a junior newspaper reporter can be presented into lively news story with the help of a stylish and attractive headline and with some brilliant editing.

There is no doubt that a headline must be eye-catching and attractive. It should be able to grab the attention of the readers. Likewise, a headline must be able to prompt the readers to go through the full news story. A headline must be balanced and must give a gist of the news story that ensues. Journalists should never give biased and unfair headlines like the one in the SuryaKhabar online news.

It goes without saying that journalists should always exercise sound judgement and should not bring discredit and dishonor to the calling referred to as the Fourth Estate by disseminating incorrect and misleading headlines.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Nepalese Community Organizations in Oregon: A Short Glimpse

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
President, Newah American Buddhist Association

Although the Nepalese community in Oregon, USA is one of the smaller ethnic groups comparing to people from other countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the number of the Nepalese immigrants in the US state of Oregon is constantly on the rise.

It is no secret that tens of thousands of Nepalese have made the US their new home. People of Nepalese origin have been living in Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Ashland, Bend and some other  cities in Oregon.

The Nepalese people who have been living in Oregon are trying to integrate into the mainstream American society while also not losing their identities. That probably is the reason why some Nepalese community organizations have been established in Portland to unite the people of Nepalese origin in Oregon and to promote and preserve Nepalese arts, culture and traditions.

This is true that the number of Nepalese population in Oregon is very low comparing to the people coming from India, China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Korea etc. But with various community activities of different Nepalese community organizations, Nepalese people's comparatively low demographic presence is already felt stronger and more effective in Oregon.

As of now, there are three Nepalese organizations which are actively engaged in uniting the Nepalese people in Oregon: (1) Nepali Association of Oregon, NAO  (2) Nepa Chhen and (3) Non-residential Nepalese Association, Oregon Chapter.

(1) Nepali Association of Oregon (NAO) which was established in the fall of 2000 AD under the chairmanship of Raju Mali is the first and pioneering organization of the Nepalese community in Oregon.

NAO has an education support program for Nepali youth from the Oregon Nepali community as well as for rural communities of Nepal.

NAO was able to raise $ 63,314.00 for helping the eqrthquake victims in Nepal. Likewise, NAO has been celebrating Dashain and Bikram Sambat New Year programs every year.

(2) The establishment of Nepa Chhen in November 2012 AD under the chairmanship of Rajesh Maharjan in Portland with the objectives of creating a permanent forum for community gatherings and focusing on preserving Nepalese arts and culture is another landmark event in the chronicles of Nepalese diaspora in Oregon.

Nepa Chhen, which champions the cause of enhancing and enriching Nepalese culture, has been celebrating Nepal Sambat new year, Mha Puja, Dashain festival, Bikram Sambat new year, Gregorian Calendar new year, Lhosar etc.

(3) Non-residential Nepalese Association - Oregon Chapter was set up in Portland in March, 2015 AD under the chairmanship of Diwakar Maharjan.

Ever since its inception, the NRNA-Oregon Chapter had organized various programs like MRP workshop, Ethnic Nepali Fashion Show, International Women's Day celebration, Social Awareness and Benefit Workshop, Career in Science workshop etc.

Apart from the above mentioned three Nepalese community organizations, special mention must be made of Nritya Mandala Mahavihar, a Newah Buddhist temple in Portland launched by Prajwal Ratna Bajracharya and Helen Appell.

Likewise, mention also must be made of Nepali eateries like Kathmandu Cafe, Momo House, Himalayan Food Cart, Peacock Window etc where  different kinds of Nepali food are served for Portlanders.

Similarly,  Kathmandu to You, Himalayan Gifts,  Kathmandu Gift Shop and Potala House etc are Nepalese stores which have been trying to reflect the Nepalese arts and culture in Oregon.

*Also Please read: "Nepali Association of Oregon: Pioneering Organization of Nepalese Community in Oregon" and "Nepali Association of Oregon Organizes Conference of Nepalese in West Americas"

**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.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Legendary Singer Panna Kaji Passes Away

Dr. Rabin Man Shakya
Advisor, Nepa Chhen, Portland
Education Director, NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter.

Me and my family are deeply saddened and shocked to know that the legendary singer, respected Panna Kaji Shakya passed away. He was 85.

Late Shakya was husband of our late nini Gyan Devi Shakya. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members.

The fans of Nepalese music in Nepal and all over the world are deeply moved by the sad news of Panna Kaji's demise. In the death of respected singer and composer Panna Kaji, the nation has lost a luminary and a shining star in the constellation of Nepalese music.

Late Panna Kaji was born on Dec 30, 1931 at Om Bahal, Kathmandu to father Chatur Man Shakya and mother Bal Kumari Shakya as their fourth kid.

As morning shows the day, young Panna Kaji was interested in music and singing since the childhood. As a matter of fact, Panna Kaji kicked off his singing activities in 2004 BS. The late respected singer vocalized his first song in Radio Nepal in 2008 BS.

Late Panna Kaji had vocalized about 400 songs including Nepali modern songs, bhajans and folk songs. Likewise, late Shakya had also given voice to some songs in Nepal Bhasa as well.

There is some kind of special and unprecedented softness in his rendition of the songs. Therefore, out of numerous songs, late Panna Kaji gave his voice to, "Tiriri Murali Bajyo Banaima", "Kina Kina Timro Tasbir", "Lolayeka Ti Timra Aankha" and "Lali Gurans Phulyo Hai" etc are admired by the Nepalese music aficionados.

In 2022 BS, a  national contest of  modern Nepalese songs was organized by Radio Nepal. The first slot was bagged by Panna Kaji in singing and late Narayan Gopal won the first place in music at that national contest.

Panna Kaji was laureate of many awards and medals. Remarkable among them are Image Lifetime Achievement Award and Gorkha Dakshin Bahu.

Late Shakya joined the Radio Nepal when he was a 19 year old teenager and he continued to work at the Radio Nepal until 2040 BS. It is to be noted that during those years, Radio Nepal was the only electronic media that provided information and entertainment to the Nepalese people, since TV broadcasting and FM radio stations were launched in Nepal much later.

The Newah people of Nepal have the tradition called "Nakhatya" of inviting the married daughters with their kids and husband for a feast after every big cultural festival like Mohani, Swonti and Pahan Chare etc. Our late grand parents at Naghal Tole, Kathmandu had three daughters, late Gyan Devi Shakya - married to late Panna Kaji - being one of them.  Taking a trip down memory lane, late Panna Kaji used to come to our home at Naghal Tole during the Nakhatyas and other big cultural events during 1960-70s.

Late Panna Kaji had great qualities of affability and sense of humor. He used to share his experiences in Radio Nepal during the family events. Nepal's late King Mahendra was an admirer of singers and musicians. The late king himself had written a number of lyrics for the prominent singers of Nepal under the nom de plume "MBB Shah". Late Panna Kaji, along with other prominent singers and musicians of Nepal, were invited at the Royal Narayanhity Palace for cultural events.

The Panna Kaji family has been living at their ancestral home at Om Bahal, Kathmandu. But after the  catastrophic earthquake in 2015, the family had moved to their home at Tahachal where he breathed his last.

Late Panna Kaji's funeral rites were performed at Teku Dobhan in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017. The Musicians' Association of Nepal had wrapped its flag on the body of late Panna Kaji. As a tribute to the late legendary singer, all the singers and musicians  who were present at the funeral sang the evergreen song "Tiriri Murali Bajyo Banai Ma".

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Portland's Cold Winter Taking Toll on the Homeless

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal.

This year's severe and cold winter in Portland, Oregon has taken its toll on the homeless people. In the first fifteen days of the new year, 4 people have already died due to the effects of the cold. 

On the first day of January, a 68-year-old homeless man was found at a downtown bus stop, and later died of hypothermia in the hospital. A 51-year-old homeless man died of hypothermia on the street from the cold last week. A 52-year-old woman died from apparent cold exposure inside a parking garage on Saturday. A 29-year-old man, living in the woods, was found dead near SW Barbur Boulevard on Wednesday due to exposure to the cold. 

It is estimated that there are about 4,000 homeless people in Portland. For that matter, the numbers of the homeless in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle are over 75,000, 41,000 and 10,000 respectively. The number of homeless people in Portland has remained steady over the last ten years. In contrast, the national homeless count has dropped by 11 percent since 2007. 

This is mainly due to the housing problem that has plagued Portland for decades. It is apparent that there is a lack of permanent housing as well as emergency shelter space. When there is a lack in places for the homeless to stay in, illegal camping becomes more pronounced, leading to even more challenges for the homeless and the city. 

The woman mentioned earlier, Karen Lee Batts, was evicted from her apartment, after she failed to pay her $338 monthly rent. The apartment was an affordable housing unit for seniors and people with disabilities. She had been homeless since October and was found dead in a parking garage just eight blocks from the apartment she was evicted from. 

This year's unusually cold, windy and snowy weather has also severely affected the people of Portland from all walks of life. But the worst hit lot - from what many observers call the nasty weather - are the homeless. Specifically those who are more vulnerable in this kind of inclement weather are the homeless women, children and elderly. 

The deaths these homeless men and women recently have once again raised the questions about the vulnerability of the homeless in Portland, as well as in the US. The deaths also bring up questions about the callousness of society towards those who have no choice but to live on the streets or cars. 

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says that this winter weather has increased the toll on the housing crisis. The emergency shelters are overwhelmed at the moment so many do not have a place to turn to when the snow hits a foot high. 

Wheeler has emphasized the importance of getting people inside and safe from the cold. This past Wednesday, the city of Portland opened up the lobby of its largest office, the Portland Building, for about 40 people. Wheeler has said it will remain open for them for the next few nights during this snowfall. 

Places like Portland Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army Female Emergency Center are in need of extra items such as blankets, jackets, socks, gloves, etc. There are also certain shelters that are currently open and are listed here:

There is no doubt that the deaths of these homeless people in Portland last week owing to the unusually cold weather was preventable. 

What is being done in the city of Portland to help them in the long run? The leaders of Portland and Multnomah County are currently in the process of resetting the old 10-year-plan to reduce the number of homeless and a building a new plan involving a National Housing Trust Fund. 

So, the local TV channel in Portland KATU News has rightfully deemed this as "historic snowfall." This historic snowfall has also led to a historic number of deaths due to hypothermia. 

Chris, seen below, says he has become homeless owing to a physical disability. He says life is really miserable for him in this cold and snowy winter.
                                                                                          (Photo: Rabin Man Shakya)

Chris, a homeless man, in Portland, Oregon.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Nepalese Portlanders Bid Farewell to 2016

Dr. Rabin Man Shakya
Advisor, Nepa Chhen, Portland, USA
Former General Secretary, Nepal Russia Cultural Association, Kathmandu

Nepalese Portlanders bade farewell to 2016, said adieu to it and cheered up "Happy New Year  2017" at a gala dinner reception organized by Nepa Chhen - a nonprofit organization of the Nepalese community in Oregon at Nekusing Memorial Theater, US West Coast Hollywood Taekwondo in Portland on Dec 31, 2016.

About 150 Nepalese people  from different walks of life from among the Nepali community attended the reception. Present on the occasion were officials and ex-officials of Nepali Association of Oregon, office bearers of Nepa Chhen and NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter.

Mr Diwakar Maharjan, president of NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter and advisor of Nepa Chhen, welcoming the guests briefly threw light on the purpose and activities of Nepa Chhen.

On the occasion, president of Nepa Chhen Mr Rajesh Maharjan welcomed new Nepalese Portlanders by wrapping Khada on them.

One of the surprises on the occasion was a donation of two thousand dollars by an anonymous Nepali Samaritan for the cause of Nepa Chhen.

The new year eve gala dinner reception was not just a confluence of wining and dining, it was followed by vivid and fabulous Nepalese dance items and songs.

It is to be noted that the establishment of Nepa Chhen in 2012 in Portland with the objective of creating a permanent house for community gatherings, focusing on preserving Nepalese arts and culture is a landmark event in the chronicles of Nepalese diaspora in Oregon, USA.

Meanwhile, in another development, NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter at a meeting held recently has decided to send a three-member delegation of participants to the Regional NRN-NCC-USA Conference to be held  in Texas on Jan 14, 2017.

The Oregon delegation includes chapter president Diwakar Maharjan, vice president Daya Shakya and general secretary Sunil Rajkarnikar.