Friday, November 16, 2012

North Panchayats sworn in

MANGAN, 09 Nov: The oath taking ceremony for the newly elected 20 Zilla Panchayat (ZP) and 107 Ward Panchayat (WP) out of 109 WP was held in the presence of ADC (N), P Verma, SDM Mangan, PW Lepcha, ADC Development, RM&DD, CG Bhutia and BDOs of different BACs at Mangan today.
The oath taking programme started with the handing over of certificates to all the Panchayats by the ADC (N) and ADC Development.
ADC, Development, RM&DD, in his address extended greetings to the newly elected panchayats on behalf of the Secretary RM&DD, DR Nepal. He urged all to serve the public and work towards the development of the area in coordination with the public under the guidelines of the Panchayati Raj System and party manifesto.
He also informed that the announcement of the portfolios process will be done after the official notification is received.
The ADC (N) stated that all the Zilla and Ward Panchayats hold valuable responsibilities towards the public and area development. So, every work should be carried out with proper documentation and transparency using their post and power for the benefits of the general public of the area, he added.

Area MLA accepts moral responsibility for NOW! attack, apologises to media

GANGTOK, 09 Nov: Kabi-Lungchok MLA, PHE Minister Thinlay Tshering Bhutia, met with media-persons here at the NOW! office today and owned up moral responsibility for the attack on the NOW! office by party members from his constituency and apologized to media-persons at large for what he insists was an aberration which he himself condemned in the strongest words. The attack on the NOW! office involved the SDF candidate for the Tingmoo-Ghaikhana ward panchayat.
Meeting with the NOW! staff and representatives from Press Club of Sikkim at the NOW! office here this morning, Mr. Bhutia accepted that being the area MLA of the place from where the perpetrators hailed, he took moral responsibility for the incident and regretted that a candidate he had cleared as a panchayat ward candidate of the party indulged in something which went against the ideology and principles of the party.
“If they were not satisfied with any news-report, they should have discussed the matter with the editor and sorted it out, but they chose the wrong way. Vandalizing the NOW! office was wrong,” said Mr Bhutia.
The Minister further informed that not only he, but other senior office bearers of the party were also disturbed by the incident and that the party’s disciplinary committee headed by former Minister KN Rai, the accused in connection with the attack and belonging to the SDF party have been expelled. An official confirmation in this regard has however not come from the SDF party yet.
Reiterating that those involved in the attack should be strictly dealt with by the law, he also assured, as demanded by the journalists, that neither he nor any of his associates in the party will interfere in the due process of law or try to compromise the investigation or prosecution.
As for reports that his PA [reported in some papers as CA] had tried to seek bail for the accused, Mr. Bhutia clarified that the name mentioned in media-reports as his PA/ CA was not officially attached with him in any capacity and was acting in his private capacity and not representing him or the party in the present context.
An attack on the fourth estate is most unfortunate, the Minister reiterated in conclusion and assured that such an act will not repeat in the future.


3-Star Nepal through to finals
GANGTOK, 09 Nov: Three Star Nepal has secured a berth in the finals of the 33rd All India Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament. In the nail-biting semi-final match played at Paljor Stadium today, a brace by Anil Ojha helped Three Star edge past Kolkata’s Bhawanipur Football Club 2-1.
In a series of continuous attacks launched by the Nepal club in the first half, Anil Ojha scored an early lead for Three Star in the 7th minute of the match. Despite many good attacks by Bhawanipur FC the first half ended on the same score of 1-0 in favour of Three Star.
Bhawanipur players led by Jose Barreto made a good comeback in the second half by launching some good attacks on Three Star. The second half also witnessed aggressive game by both the teams. In the 73rd minute, the referee sent Hudson Lima of Bhawanipur FC and Santosh Shahukhala of Three Star off the field.
In the 82nd minute, Nobin Hela scored the equalizer for Bhawanipur FC and 10-men down both the teams played their hearts out to secure a place in the finals. In the 7 minutes additional time, Anil Ojha scored his brace and winning goal for Three Star Nepal.
Apart from two red cards in the match, the match also witnessed the referee flashing yellow cards to Anil Gurung, Bishnu Sunar and Anil Ojha of Three Star and Uttam Debnath and Jose Barreto of Bhawanipur FC.
The second semi-final match will be played between BSF Jallandhar and Mohun Bagan SAIL tomorrow at 2 PM.


GANGTOK, 09 Nov: Convener of the Himalayan Ethnic Lepcha Fashion event 2012, Tshering Wangdi Lepcha informed today that the finale of the grand event showcasing traditional Lepcha outfits and incorporations of new designs is scheduled for Saturday at Manan Kendra. The function starts 4 PM.
Speaking to media persons here at the Press Club of Sikkim today, Tshering Lepcha stated that the final round of selections before the finale was held at Kalimpong on 08 September where participants from 39 villages across Sikkim and West Bengal showcased their new concepts and designs on Lepcha traditional outfits.
He added that 11 designers have been shortlisted for the final event tomorrow, each of whom will showcase 3 designs each. A total of 33 designs will be presented by local models at the show which will have former Indian football captain, Bhaichung Bhutia as special guest. It may be informed here that the ace footballer is also the brand ambassador for the event.
Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, KT Gyaltsen who is also the chief patron of the event will be present as the chief guest. The event is being jointly supported by Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association and Lepcha Youth Association of West Bengal.
“We have held the preliminary round for the event in different parts of the region including Kalimpong which saw huge participation. It is encouraging to see that there are so many aspiring designers who want to work on traditional dresses and develop a styling sense that goes with the present fashion trends. The objective of the event is to promote tradition and also give a platform to the local designers in the field of fashion”, expressed Tshering Lepcha.
The Himalayan Ethnic Lepcha Fashion event is being coordinated by Phurbu D Lepcha who was also present for the press meet during which she informed that the majority of designers who had been shortlisted for the grand event tomorrow were untrained in this field.
“Most of the designers are doing this for the first time and the designs that have been selected by the panel of judges at Kalimpong are just amazing. It is heartening to see that such raw talent exists in our region,” she told media persons today.
The organizers of the event also inform that there will be a Lepcha cultural extravaganza with a musical programme for the guests at the event tomorrow. A food stall displaying traditional foods of the indigenous tribe will also be set-up at the venue.
It was also informed that the Himalayan Ethnic Fashion event will also be held in the near future that will highlight not only the Lepcha tribe but other ethnic communities within Sikkim and other regions along the Himalayan belt including the NE states and Leh-Ladakh. Future programmes include a fashion show in Kolkata and participation at the Darjeeling Tea festival.

Golay tours North Sikkim

MANGAN, 09 Nov: Dissident SDF MLA, PS Tamang, delved on various problems being faced by the people of North Sikkim and alleged that the State government has failed to deliver in the district.
Mr Tamang, along with his supporters Ugen Nedup Bhutia of Phensong, Chewang Jigmee Lepcha of Mangan and others was on a two-day visit to North Sikkim on 07 and 08 November. The Upper Burtuk MLA began his address here at Mangan by condemning the attack on Sikkim NOW! office on 07 November and said that it shows the weakness of the government in providing security to the press and media in the state.
Stating that this is his first tour to Lachung and Lachen following the 18 September earthquake last year, Mr Tamang alleged that the poor condition of roads is due to the negligence of GREF and the State government. He highlighted various problems like disrupted power supply and BSNL communication, drinking water supply, supply of refilled LPG cylinders and suspension of work at the Ramom Chu power house after the earthquake last year.
According to Mr Tamang, these problems have affected tourism in the area which is the main source of income for the local public. Local public and the Pipon met him and placed their problems mainly with regard to earthquake relief yet to be received by the affected people of the area.
2,800 metric tonnes of ration as disaster relief and distribution of solar heaters for high altitude which came for North Sikkim has not reached the affected people, he alleged and further added that Dzumsa maintenance fund for Lachen has not been provided either.
The MLA also assured the public that he will raise these issues with the state government and that he will launch a new political party within this month. [from DEEPAK SHARMA]

BGP, SLF and ACT condemn attack on media house

GANGTOK, 09 Nov: Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, Sikkim unit, has condemned the attack on Sikkim NOW! office on Wednesday as a “shameful act”.
A BGP release states that the “repeated attacks on the press fraternity is a sign of the unhealthy democratic atmosphere prevailing in the state”.
BGP Sikkim Unit has demanded absolute freedom of press and the state administration to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.
Also condemning the attack, Sikkim Liberation Front [SLF] has stated that it is nothing but an attempt to create socio-political unrest in Sikkim. SLF convenor, Duk Nath Nepal has further stated in a press release that the precedence set by similar incidents in the past where the accused escaped scot-free has encouraged such attacks on media.
Affected Citizens of Teesta too has condemned the attack with its convenor, Tseten Lepcha, visiting the NOW! office today and conveying the organisation’s support towards the newspaper and registering the unanimous condemnation of the incident on behalf of the organisation.

Teohar: When the Good Times Begin

The mythical roots of Teohar run deep, and before the profligacy of the current times make it impossible for us to trace them back, Dr. HARKA BAHADUR CHETTRI takes us on a journey of discovery. This is the story of Teohar...

Sagar, the King of the Ocean, had two daughters. The elder, who symbolised progress and prosperity, was named Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth; the younger, Alaxmi, or Dhumawati, stood for despair and destruction. Both wanted to rule the world and Sagar had a crisis at hand which offered no easy solutions. Finally, Sagar worked out a compromise, he temporarily divided the world into two unequal halves – the first half comprised of four months which begin towards the middle of June and ends sometime in October. This period is considered ‘bad’ because it not only brings disasters like landslides and floods, but also a host of lethal diseases. The land suffers the onslaught of rains and actually loses its brightness. Against such a dull backdrop, Goddess Laxmi takes charge of the affairs of the planet from her less virtuous sister, Dhumawati, sometime in October. Lights are lit all over to celebrate this exchange of power and welcome the Goddess of Prosperity.
India and Nepal are two countries where Teohar/ Deepawali is a major occasion. Spread over five days, the festival is also known as ‘Yamapanchak’. A festival common to Hindus, no doubt, the manner in which the Nepali community observes it, has however something unique about it which separates it from the manner in which Hindus elsewhere celebrate the festival.
The first day is observed as the Festival of the Crow. Called ‘Kak Teohar’, it is followed by ‘Kukkur Teohar’, the Festival of the Dog, and ends on the fifth day with Bhai Teohar or Bhai Tika. According to Devi Bhagwat Puran, the Hindu holy book about Goddesses, the Crow is the messenger of the God of Death, Yama.
Taking a minor digression, the Devi-Bhagwat Puran, which translates as “the Old Book of the Goddess”, is one of the most important work in Shaktism, the veneration in Hinduism of the divine feminine. It is one of the Puranic works that are not necessarily authoritative for all Hindus, but that have special importance for the Shakti sect within Hinduism. The text describes the Devi, the Goddess, as the foundation of the world and as identical with Brahman, the Supreme Being. The Devi-Bhagwat Puran also deals with topics like spiritual knowledge, social and personal ethics, and holy places.
It is a popular belief among the Nepalese that the crow always carries messages, hence no one should throw stones, shoo it away or try to kill the bird if it is heard cawing in the vicinity. Modern interpretations of the practise look at the bird from a more utilitarian point of view. The crow is nature’s scavenger which removes the dead and decaying organisms, thereby minimising the possibility of the spread of epidemics. It also guards the crops by preying on rats and insects which are major pests for crops. So, Kak Teohar is a means used by humans to express their gratitude towards this bird.
The same is true of Kukkur Teohar. The dog is among the most faithful animals. There is also an incident in the Mahabharata where Yudhistra, still alive, begins his journey for heaven. The only company he has on this journey is a dog who later turns out to be none other than Yama himself.
The cow is worshipped on the third day on Gai Teohar. Leftovers of the special food prepared for the cow are later taken as Prasad. Nobody eats anything before this Prasad on the day. The worship of the cow leads us to an insight that the practise is a result of agricultural civilisation when the cow was the most valued of all animals. On this day, the cow is worshipped in the morning (again, an aspect unique to the Nepalese in how the festival is celebrated) and Goddess Laxmi propitiated later the same evening with the decoration of lights and bursting of firecrackers.
The fourth day, Goru Teohar, sees the ox being worshipped. The importance of Goru Teohar is not only due to the fact that the animal is used to till the fields, but also because it helps continue and multiply the generation of cows. Goru Teohar is also known as Govardhan Puja or Halli Teohar.
The fifth and final day of Teohar is Bhai Teohar or Bhai Tika.
There are still more myths associated with different aspects of this festival and although all of them will not be possible to be included in this essay, we delve into some of them here.
The practise of singing Deosi and Bhailey when groups of boys and men [Deosi] and girls and women [Bhailo] move around the locality, singing songs from door to door, is traced back to the western Khasland of Nepal. The practise apparently developed and spread to various parts of Nepal from Khas, albeit with some alterations and adaptations, and thence onwards to wherever the Nepalese settled.
In the Karnali region of northwestern Nepal, for example, the festival’s Bhailo singing has two divisions – Sani Bhailey and Thuli Bhailey. Sani Bhailey is celebrated during the full moon of December during Mangshir Purnima. Fifteen days later, i.e. from the New Moon till five days, Thuli Bhailey is observed. The fifth day of Thuli Bhailey is also called Chhada Bhailey since it is played by young boys and girls as a single group.
The Khas society, among whom the practise is believed to have originated, also celebrates Deepawali as the festival of Gender Worship. A long bamboo pole is fixed near a Tulsi plant and the top of the Bamboo Pole carries a burning candle. Such lights are popularly known as Aakashdeep. Tulsi is a sacred plant and believed to be an incarnate form of Vishnu who had taken the form of a Tulsi to oblige a certain Sati. This worship is also known among the Nepalese as Linga Puja, the phallic worship. Shiva Linga is also worshipped throughout the Khas province.
The singing of Bhailey on Laxmi Puja and Deosi on the following two days is also traced back to the mythical Kirat king Balihang, who is also described in various Hindu scriptures as Asura Raja, the king of demons. Balihang was famous for his generosity and legends narrate that when this Kirati king became immensely popular and powerful, Indra, the King of Gods, began feeling insecure. His insecurity growing with Balihang’s increasing influence, the terrified Indra turned towards Lord Vishnu for help. Vishnu, after a patient hearing, worked out a plan to save Indra’s pride and throne. Disguised as a poor Brahmin, he went to the pious king and asked for some alms. The Kirati king was prepared to give anything, but the disguised Vishnu asked for land that he could cover in three steps. Once Balihang agreed, Lord Vishnu regained his original form and within no time, the pygmy figure of the Brahmin grew to such a size that his head disappeared behind the clouds. In a single stride, he covered the whole earth and with his second, heaven. With no where left to place his third step, the virtuous king placed his head in front of the mighty Brahmin and said: “Lord, let your third step be on my head.” Thus, Balihang was pushed into the ground. Lord Vishnu, however, promised to guard the King till he remained buried. This is the reason why performing any kind of religious rites is forbidden between July-August because all the Gods are believed to be underground guarding Balihang and there is no one in heaven to receive the offerings made by the pious. Though the modern Deorsi and Bhailo singing carries hardly anything of this story, it is believed that they were mythically devised to spread this story as far and wide as possible.
The other version of the genesis of Deosi and Bhailo is also related to same Kirat king. It is believed that he fell grievously ill once and showing no signs of recovering. The God of Death, Yama, started sending messages of his impending death in the form of dogs and crows, but Balihang’s sister, who was guarding him, sent back the messengers with word that Yama could take her brother after he fulfilled certain conditions. Yama was told to wait till Panchami, i.e. Bhai Tika. He could take Balihang away only after the colour of the Tika had faded away, or the water she sprinkled around her brother, dried, or the flowers with which she had prepared the garland, wilted.  She was only buying time and Yama was confident that the few extra days she had negotiated would not lead to anything miraculous. He granted her wish. Balihang’s sister was, however, mush more ingenious than Yama had given her credit for. She carefully chose the ingredients of the Tika to make sure that it did not fade. She  applied a Tika of rice grains, which she knew would not lose their colour in a hurry, giving her brother enough time to recover from his illness and thwart death. The next day, she mixed oil in the water she sprinkled around him to keep it from drying, and on the third day, she stringed a garland made of Makhamali, a flower of the aster family, whose fibrous and robust petals do not wilt for years.
In the meanwhile, Yama’s messengers kept close watch on the developments so that he could be intimated the moment any of the conditions imposed by Balihang’s sister were met and he could arrive and take away Balihang. However, none of the conditions were met and soon Balihang began to recover and when he had fully recuperated, thereby providing no opportunity for death to visit, his sister sent the same messengers across the kingdom to announce Balihang’s recovery. Deosi and Bhailo, which still celebrate Balihang in their lyrics, are believed to be these messages.
Nowadays, however, very few people are aware of the actual story behind the tradition which has changed beyond recognition. Makhamali has been replaced by Saipatri which has of late even given way to artificial flowers made of plastic and paper. Obviously then, very few sisters still string the garlands themselves. The rice tika has been replaced by brightly coloured chemicals. The purity of feeling between brothers and sisters that manifested once, has degenerated to cheap fashion devoid of the essence of tradition that helps build a community.
Of late, there have even been concerted moves to disassociate Teohar from its Kirati ethos. This, most believe, stems from a certain section’s commitment to do away with anything Aryan, which, for them, carries with it implicit connotations of “developed” which could go against the much sought after tribal status. Such considerations are ironic because the whole concept of Teohar draws its roots, among the Nepalese, from the life of a Kirat king.
[This article was first published in the Weekend Review, Oct 27-02 Nov 2000, Vol 2 No 15]

Norbugang XI lifts All Sikkim Women’s Football Tournament

GANGTOK, 09 Nov: Norbugang XI of West Sikkim have become the champions of the All Sikkim Women’s Football Tournament played here at Paljor Stadium. In the final match of the tournament, Norbugang XI, comprising of players from Mangalbaria based Girls Football Academy, thrashed Fambongla XI of East Sikkim 5-0 to lift the champion’s trophy.
Nima Lhamu Bhutia scored a hattrick, with goals in the 9th, 15th and 55th minute. Mongmit Lepcha in the 48th minute and Pavitra Limboo in the 64th minute added a goal each to seal the victory for Norbugang XI.
The winning and runner-up teams were awarded with trophies, medals and cash prizes.
Bhoj Kumari Subba of Norbugang XI was awarded with the Player of the Tournament title and her teammate, Nima Lhamu Bhutia received the Highest Scorer title for her 6 goals in the tournament.


In elections, like in life, there are victories and there are defeats. And certainly there are inadvertent errors, be it life or be it newspapers. The margin of error sometimes is more in newspapers because without one’s realization, media is one and the only platform which is recording “history in a hurry.” And to pelt boulders, chant slogans and damage properties just because of a clerical error is indeed not justified.
The incident which happened at NOW! must be condemned in the loudest of voices and the strongest of actions by the authorities. The perpetrators should not be let scot free, because if such physical violence towards the media is not nipped in its bud, it could become a rule than an exception.
Furthermore, it would be very easy for anyone and everyone to target media houses and vent their anger and frustration, at the slightest of chances. Also, it could be extremely difficult for the very hard working journalists from regional as well as English newspapers and magazines to provide news in the right perspective.
When the press is wounded it hurts everyone. My heart goes out to every hardworking journalist in Sikkim and especially to the NOW! team, hoping that they would come out stronger from this incident.
Dewakar Basnet [recvd on email]

Editorial: Non-Governmental Interventions

There is something definitely wrong with the picture when governments and project developers float their own organisations to do “social work” which should ideally be undertaken by well networked “local” NGOs. Without taking anything away from the efficacy of the present kind of NGOs, a fact which cannot be ignored is that under the present structures, the NGOs become an extension of the bureaucratic system of chakari in which political masters [or funding company] gain primacy over the people among whom the organisations should be working. This subverts the whole role of a social engagement from being one of linking aspirations and concerns from the grassroots up to becoming handling agents of dole trickling down from above. For all the negativity which the term “NGO” or “social worker” might have begun to now attract, there are many problems and challenges which only non-governmental volunteers can resolve.
Discomforting situations, especially the ones that are social in nature, require agencies from outside the government to find deliverance. The State can at best play the role of a facilitator by putting in place the right laws and policies and making available the required funds to aid the process. In contrast, when the government takes on the role of the NGO, there is too much tokenism which does not end up helping anyone. This is not for want of intent, but more a fallout of the lack of commitment caused by the lopsided prioritisation mentioned earlier. Also, government officials are in transferable jobs and have other considerations weighing on their minds like career progression to get too involved with the social cause they might presently be ex officio or otherwise involved in. Without complete involvement, social problems cannot be solved and this commitment can only be guaranteed by committed workers of an NGO or other social groups. Government functionaries will be satisfied with “World Day” observance of their present responsibilities or the odd workshop and awareness programme. Real work involves getting the hands dirty and that is too much to expect from a person with only temporary responsibility of the problem. The government is also handicapped by the red tape it wraps itself in. Work on the field demands instant decisions and improvisation which government officials are either not trained for or unwilling to risk. The NGO network has become so big in our country that at one extreme, it has become an unsavoury nexus of funds and socialite hobbies, even as at another end, very effective engagements are underway. In Sikkim, however, the NGO culture is still nascent and because of this the government-NGO relationship is still not one of mutual respect. Since most NGOs here are completely dependent on the State for funds and even directions, their independence is also restricted. It is time the NGO culture developed into a viable deliverer of services and information to the Sikkimese, especially those in the rural areas. Many changes are afoot at present and NGO involvement in cushioning their impact is an urgent need. It is not rare to find a fatalistic streak among the people who have almost lost faith in their ability to solve problems on their own. If this notion is allowed to take roots, very soon, a society mistakenly convinced of its incompetence will even stop trying too hard to improve its situation. A responsible network of NGOs will go a long way in combating this defeatist trait and help in reacquiring the confidence which slips away fast in a welfare state...