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.