Saturday, March 29, 2008

Locking horns in the hills!

By Smita Magar
Posted on: 2008-01-17 01:55:27

“Next year, I'm going to buy a bigger and stronger bull to win the award," said Rudra Bahadur Paudyal of Budhasing-6, Nuwakot. He was one of the participants of the unique "bull-fight" tradition celebrated on the occasion of Maghe Sankranti in Nuwakot.
Despite losing the game on Tuesday afternoon Paudyal said, "This was my first participation at such an event. Therefore, I wasn't aware of all that was needed to win. But, next year I'm certainly going to be very careful and give my bull better nutrients, at least six months ahead of the tournament."
Ironically, Paudyal got injured by his own bull, just when he arrived for the registration. "I couldn't miss this chance; I was very excited to participate and wanted to show that my bull was no less a competitor," he shared.
Like Paudyal, every year when Maghe Sankranti arrives, the people at Nuwakot not only celebrate the day with traditional ghiu-chaku, but also make it a point to make the “bull-fight” a grand ceremony. This year was no exception either. Not only did the locals enjoy the event, some 2,000 neighboring villagers too witnessed the extravaganza.
"As people from places like Dhading, Kathmandu, Syangja and Chitwan too popped in, we experienced many more spectators than what we had last year," highlighted Toran Kumar Shahi, President of Maghe Sankranti Fiesta Management Committee (MFMC).
Along with those who seemed enthralled to witness the show, there were also a few who took it a malpractice in terms of animal rights.
"It is a guilty pleasure," told Rajan Shrestha, a youth who had come to watch the bull fight from Batar, neighboring village of Taruka, Nuwakot.
"Like anyone else I'm here to see how the event is conducted. However, though it has traditional values, I now realize that we human beings have become selfish to such large extent that we can go beyond limits for our pleasure and enjoyment," he added.
Similarly, Purushottam Adhikari, an active member of Human Rights Organization of Nepal (HURON) had his own point of view: "I agree that it's one of the unique cultural practices. Nonetheless, it is also a heinous crime when it comes to animal rights. However, I don't mean that the tradition needs to be abolished; one can instead make sure that neither the bulls nor anyone else gets injured."
According to the villagers the "bull-fight" was incepted in the district some 200 years ago. "Participating in a bull fight has always been an honor, a platform to portray class and status," said Jham Bahadur Pradhan, one of the elder members of the district.
Till a few years ago the winners used to be felicitated with red tika and would be carried on shoulders and with a panche baja procession behind. However, this practice didn't last long as some people did not admire this act. Pradhan put in, "There's nothing wrong in organizing such events. After all, we need to preserve out culture."
Along with a winning trophy, the winner of the competition also gets a hundred rupee.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)

With 1 surviving speaker, Dura going dodo way


KATHMANDU, Jan 9 - Soma Devi Dura is 82. Given the life expectancy of an average Nepali, she is nearing her last days. Soma Devi's death won't merely be the death of an individual. The only source of a language of Nepal's western hills will die with her.
Researchers and university professors say the octogenarian lady is the only native speaker of the Dura language, which used to be spoken in parts of Lamjung and Tanahun districts in western Nepal.
"My finding is that the only living person who can speak Dura is Soma Devi," says Kedar Bilash Nagila, a PhD scholar who is writing a thesis on the critically endangered Dura language.
Nagila says Soma Devi is the only authentic source of information for the thesis which he is preparing as a sequel to his MA thesis.
Professor Madhav Prasad Pokharel, a senior linguist at the Central Department of Linguistics at Tribhuvan University says, "In case anything happens to Soma Devi, the entire effort to preserve the endangered language will receive a jolt."
Soma Devi lives in Handikhola of Dura Danda, Lamjung. Her husband, son and five daughters cannot speak Dura.
Nagila said lack of transmission of the Dura language between generations is the major reason behind its becoming endangered, while the dominance of Nepali speakers in surrounding areas is another reason.
Modnath Prashrit, a culture expert, said a language becomes endangered when the community to which it belongs decides that it is an impediment. "Children may discard their native tongue after realizing that other more-widely spoken languages are more useful," he explained.
Kishore Dura, president of Dura Seva Samaj, added, "Government policy promoting only the Khas (Nepali) language also led to the endangering of indigenous languages like Dura".
Dura Seva Samaj and researcher Nagila have been planning to bring Soma Devi to Kathmandu with the support of the National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities so that the language of which only 1,500 words and 250 sentences have been documented so far can be documented.
"We are very corncerned about the threat faced by the Dura language,"said Lok Bahadur Thapa, member secretary of the Foundation. He said the Foundation is holding discussions with both the researcher and the Dura Seva Samaj to bring Soma Devi to Kathmandu.
To add to the threat faced by Dura, Soma Devi is blind and deaf and would need special hearing equipment to facilitate documentation of the language. "We hope we will be able to overcome the problems soon," said Thapa.
Kishore said there is a ray of hope for the language as it is now being taught to children of the Dura community with the help of the 1,500 words and 250 sentences that have been documented. Two books have already been prepared on the language. "We are trying to publish an edited version of the books," he said.
Prof Yogendra Prasad Yadav, chief of the Central Department of Linguistics at TU, said, "The key to getting a language revitalized is getting a new generation of speakers."

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)

26th Magar Day Celebrated!


Smita Magar
February 27.

The Magar communities celebrated its 26th Magar Day on Thursday in capital demanding the proportional representation in Constituent Assembly (CA) polls and Lakhan Thapa Magar to be declared as the first martyrs of the country.

Starting the celebration with nearly 1,000 Magar participants on the occasion, the rally was taken out from the Bhadrakali to Ratnapark and finally to Bhrikuti Mandap where formal program was conducted.

Inaugurating the program, Minister of Cultural, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prithvi Subba Gurung urged leaders of Magar community to present the facts and essential documents that prove Captain Lakhan Thapa Magar to be the first martyr so that he can start on the process to declare Thapa Magar first martyr of the country. “I request Magar community leaders to present the facts that prove Thapa Magar to be the first martyr as soon as possible. I give my words, if facts support I will myself put forward the process to declare Thapa Magar first martyr of the country,” said Gurung on the program.

Similarly, addressing the crowd he added “For centuries Magar community has been ignored by the state’s ruler and so it has suffered for its ethnic identity, equal rights and representation in country’s administration but now through upcoming CA polls Magar will write their own history. Therefore, it is an opportunity for Magars to write their own history and ensure their rights and representation in the country.”

On the occasion, Nepal Magar Association’s President Jhak Bahadur Thapa handed over the memorandum to Minister Subba Gurung in which mainly three main points are highlighted. They are: Magars to be given the Magarat Autonomous State, Captain Lakhan Thapa Magar to be declared First Martyr of the country and implementation of the full proportional CA poll system on the basis of ethnic population.

Also speaking in the program, Mohan Thapa Magar, coordinator of the Magar Youth Association (MYA) said that State has been ignoring the sacrifice of Magar community. “Every time every ruler has been using Magars as the pillar to its rule/regime, may it be Rana regime, Shah Regime or Maoist but after they are on power they forget the blood spilled by Magars for the betterment of the country,” he said. “They have been insulting our sacrifice but this time we will fight for our identity, rights and representation,” he added.

Further adding he said, “Our main goal at the moment is to establish the Magarat Autonomus Region and for that Magar youths are ready than ever.”

Kumar Thapa Magar, vice-president of Democratic Magar Association stressing over the declaration of Lakhan Thapa Magar as the first martyr of the country said, “My salutes to those Magars of Rupandehi district who established Lakhan Thapa’s statue on the place of King Birendra.” Adding at the program, he said, “Now, it is time for Magars of Kathmandu to put statue of first martyr on the place of King Tribhuban’s statue that is at Shahid Gate.”

On the Lakhan Thapa Magar Day, 2nd of Falgun in Rupandehi, Magars have established Lakhan Thapa Magar’s statue where there used to be King Birendra’s statue which was destroyed during in the beginning of Madhesh Movement last year.

Jhak Bahadur Thapa Magar, President of NMA speaking at a program said that NMA will bring many programs, protests to pressurize government to declare Lakhan Thapa Magar as first martyr, establish the Magarat Autonomous State and implementation of full proportional CA election system. “Our protests and voices will not stop until we get our demands fulfilled,” he added.

Also on the same occasion, President of Tamang Ghedung Association Dhan Prasad Tamang said that like other janajatis he hoped Magar will also fight to get Magarat Autonomous State and its ethnic identity with full proportional representation in CA. “We will be helping each other to fulfill these demands,” Tamang added.

On the same occasion, Kshyam Thapa Magar, former President of Nepal Magar Association of South Korea handing over 1 lakh 73 thousand and 3 hundred to NMA said, “It is a plight of nation and Nepalese people that when an ethnic community is demanding for autonomous state it is taken as the splitting of nation.”

Personalities like Bom Kumari Budha Magar, Bhoj Bikram Budha Magar, Hong Kong Rana Magar, Fatik Thapa Magar and others also spoke in the program calling for all Magar community to join hand and fight for the ethnic identity, rights and maximum representation in upcoming Constituent Assembly.

Magar Day is being celebrated on the occasion of establishment day of Nepal Magar Association which was known as Nepal Langhali Association till 2048 B.S. Nepal Langhali Association was established on Falgun 15 of 2039 and its first National Convention in Damauli had decided to celebrate the day as a Magar Day. Last year Magars had celebrated its Silver Jubilee.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Where I Belong!

Under the protecting eyes of Ramajima and Mount Sishne, she blossoms in all seasons of the year. There is a very genuine misconception in urban areas about her; many of urban-born affectionately call her ‘mountain’ though in reality she is just a hill. She doesn’t touch the blue sky above her as Mount Everest does. But, she is the only one in the whole world who can take children on her rainbow to travel through the world of heaven and bring them back to herself.

Far from the world of maddening crowed, of plastic and the worldly eyes of intruders, she hides. Here, people born out of her are the only ones who can feel their blood give rush when they see her from miles away because they are so much alike that they are linked with each other to feel each-others heartbeat. These people are out of her seed and are as enigmatic as she is. Only intruders in this virgin society are poets and the God and Goddess of nature. I can guarantee, Laxmi Prasad Devkota must have been the only intruder in this society in his dreams and must have been inspired by her to write every words of his life. These were extraordinary beings with extraordinary powers that linked them with her.

But, if you decide to go and see her leaving your cozy home in Kathmandu, you will have to drive west through almost forgotten-highway for two days in bus and then walk for three days to find her in front of your eyes. After some days of relaxation upon her lap, you will not be able to impede yourself from putting on your hiking shoes. And then, after 3 hours hike through the small trails passing cheerfully through deep wooded forest with artistic old trees standing tall just asking you to appreciate them for their age while thousands of wild flowers beg you to stop and smell their heavenly scent. With those temptation and discovering mysteries hidden behind those rocks of hers if you still can move forward you step on Ramli. And after missing few breaths; standing on grassy sheep pasture when you look around; there, you will discover yet another stimulating reward in those smiling mountains and unfolding hills that extend to the horizon. At that time, your eyes will see the miracle of her; the startling synchronization of natural colour…the valley with scattered villages by the deep blue river and hills raised from those villages extend from being deep green to haze blue in the horizon behind the folds of higher hills and suddenly turn itself white with snow covered mountains behind them protecting and cherishing them.

After that magical moment, when you have caught your breath and you are relaxed you have to look directly below you to see her. With some scattered thatched roof houses, deep green forests and potato, maize, millet and mustards fields, at first you might find her as ordinary as other hills quietly lying next to her. She will not make you gape or reach for your camera like Everest does. But you will discover she will not allow you to turn your head away from her as well. It is that time when you decide to look her closely enough to find something striking hidden inside her. Then you will discover, there is something very intriguing about her. It is a wonder; to find her become alive in front of your very own eyes.

Through her prairie you will see two different worlds within a circle of clock. During day, laying on your back, under the shade of full grown maple tree you will see the blue sky extending to infinity with only a source of light hanging on it. While during night, laying on the terrace, hands under your head you will find yourself staring at the wonder of another world. The world of night yet so bright and so gay with uncountable numbers of stars twinkling in the same clear sky that held sun on its palm during day time; as if someone had quietly slipped to put glitters during dusk to make your heart give a leap in your life.

You will discover, She is a place… a magical place where Echo is still alive under her loving arms. Here, Achillies and Beowulf live in harmony with fire- breathing dragons. Sita and Ram come here to have their romantic moments once in a while. Here, you can find your wishes made on rocks come alive. She is the one who lets people see God in rocks, shows the footprints of them in hills and water. And yet so secretive with her limestone caves and layers of ancient power hidden under bushes you can never expect what might jump out of it. A roaring tiger may chase you towards your home if you wander too far away or wild boar may show you how to dug the jungle and eat earthworms.

Of all people I should know. I have spent my first 9 years wrapped around her arms. Even after parting with her, I have been spending my days with her in my imagination and dreams. The first thing I ever smelled was her sweet scent on her air that gave me life and encouraged me to open my eyes to see her in her full glory. When I was about 2 minutes old I had cried with full joy by sensing her love for the first time. At 4, holding my brothers hand, I had witnessed secrets deep within her. At 7, I had learned birds’ language and was talking with them sitting comfortably on her rhododendron’s palm. Then after a decade I had gone back to her and she had not changed much; she was still the love of my life.

I really don’t remember when exactly love affair began between us. What I am sure of is that I had realized her love even before I was born, even before I existed. It was just like that…when I had breathed in her for the first time I was totally, deeply and madly in love with her.

Yet I fear. I fear, in the tiny moment of her long life-span, my love seems one sided. If she blinks her eyes during the time when I am with her, she will miss me. She will miss to notice my existence. She will not see I ever existed and loved her till the last breath.

But that realization heightens my love even more because that fear gives me a reason to be by her side in every breath of my life: a reason to live, a reason to love and a reason to die. And even after death takes hold of me I will lay a somber sleep in her lap of intoxicating beauty tasting the ambrosia of her core. Yes, this is my wish: to live my whole life wrapped around her arms, and let my body live forever mixed with her in her garden of Nirvana.

I have come to realize, to understand her you need a little bit of black magic. We all do. A little black magic to belong with her, to understand her mysteries and her secrets behind her smile because her subtle beauty is not like a beauty of Everest: instantaneously impressive but nothing more. This instant impressiveness doesn’t give you enough time to create, to reflect and to live with them. That is why we need a little black magic in our lives to understand her subtle beauty because these mysteries and magic crawl up on us slowly giving us enough time to live, love and appreciate life. Life that is so full of mysteries and secrets revealing itself in right time, with right message and meaning showing each day with a little piece of heaven creating smile on beholder like she does.

This is the reason; She and Life are so much intertwined together. Creating a reason to smile, to live, to love and make you believe that you rightfully belong in her heavenly wings of life’s warmth.

[Note: I was born in Jhumlabang of Morabang VDC, Rukum District of Nepal!]