Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sikkim Philately at a glance-2

Ever since Sikkim became the part of Indian Union, four major state level Philatelic exhibitions had been held organised by the Department of Post. Little is known about the first philatelic exhibition SIKKIMPEX-82 except that among the many participants on the exhibition one of the participants was Late Ganga Kaptan, a legendary figure in Nepali literature. The three day exhibition had three special cover released. Sikkim Philately had to wait for two decades to have the next major exhibition. Twenty years later in 2002, a three day exhibition was held at White Hall. It was for the first time the people of Sikkim took keen interest on those gummed piece of paper. Dr Pawan Kumar Chamling, the Chief Minister of Sikkim was the Chief Guest on the occasion. The exhibition was a huge success. The occasion helped introduce Dipok Dey, a renowned stamp designer from Kolkata and the only Indian to design a United Nation Stamp with the young and eager stamp collectors of the state. Among the noted winners in the exhibition was Ganesh Pradhan in senior category while Ruben Pradhan and Debasish Basnet both were first and second at the junior category. Around 20 stamp collectors participated in the three day show. Three separate pictorial special cover cancellations were released on each day.

 First Special Cover from Sikkim (1982)

Ruben Pradhan and Debasish Basnet, the two junior category winners were later among the 16 children included in the Indian contingent that participated in Arizonia Stamp exhibition in United States. This exhibition opened door for the young philatelist of Sikkim beyond the state. Sikkim Philatelists had over the years participated at exhibitions at Jalpaiguri, Berhampore, Siliguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Kolkata. Other person behind the grooming of these young stamp collectors from Sikkim had been Surya Kanta Biswas from Berhampore and Padam Parajuli from Siliguri. It is Surya Kanta Biswas, Padam Parajuli and Dipok Dey who helped groom the young philatelists from Sikkim explaining every small query in the process. Dipok Dey for specific reason had always provided basic information on stamps and the work out process in the exhibitions. Dipok Dey is also credited for designing most of the special covers released from Sikkim over the years.

Special Cover on Orchid released on International Florishow at Saramsa (2008)

In 2003, a unique post was started from Gangtok helipad which was called Helicopter Post. Though the functioning of the Helicopter post had been stopped now but those covers are of delight. TNA School at Gangtok in 2005 hosted the Palbheu Stamp Exhibition that saw participants from far places like Cooch Bihar, Berhampore, Gangarampur, Siliguri, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri. V Rama Roa, the Governor of Sikkim inaugurated the first day function with the release of a special cover. Shital Pradhan from Sikkim won the gold medal in the senior category and also the Post Master General Trophy for the best philatelist in the exhibition. Ganesh Pradhan stood second in the senior category. The exhibition saw increase in numbers of students and private collectors participating in it. Four special covers were released on the occasion. Sikkim Philatelic Club was founded on the same event to promote philately in the state.

Special Cover on Guru Padmashambha (2009)

The year 2005 was eventful for the philately lovers in the state as 17 Mountain Division held its first philatelic exhibition Black Cat Philex 2005 in Sikkim. The exhibition was held at Helipad Ground, New Cant, Libing on January 15 and 16. For the first time in 63 long years of the division such organization was held in India. On the occasion Special Cover of the 17 Mountain Divisions was released depicting the picture of Mount Kanchenjunga on the envelope cover. The exhibit displayed in the exhibition was from different places of Malda, Cooch Behar, Gangarampur, Kalimpong and Sikkim. The chief guest of the event was a known philatelist of the hills, Udaya Mani Pradhan.
The year 2005 also saw four philatelists from Sikkim participating at Kolkata State level Stamp Exhibition. Stamp Show at Kolkata saw a release of a special cover jointly by Sikkim, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar. The recognition for the so-called rise of philately in the small state of Sikkim without doubt goes to one man, John Samuel former Post Master General of North Bengal and Sikkim. During his tenure as the Post Master General of North Bengal and Sikkim between 2002-2006 he encouraged students towards philately and regularly held philately exhibitions and workshops on philately in Sikkim.
Another note worthy event that concluded in 2005 was an organizing of the two day philatelic exhibition at Gangtok coinciding with the celebration of the 50th year to the ascent of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Present on the occasions were climbers from different parts of the world that had reached the summit of Mt. Kanchenjunga including the first two Norman Hardie and George Band. Two Special Covers was released to commemorate the occasion.
Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, Tadong hosted the Tashi Targay Philately Exhibition 2008 organised by the Department of Post that had Shital Pradhan winning the first prize followed by Ganesh Pradhan and CP Raya respectively. Same year during the first International Florishow held at Saramsa, a special cover on Orchid variety was released.
For the last couple of years Sikkim Philatelic Club had been helping the Postal Department of the State in organizing exhibition and workshop on philately in different part of the state. Ganesh Pradhan, senior philatelist of the state had been attending the entire workshop and encouraging the youngster towards the beauty of the world of philately. This year a Namchi Philately Mahotsav was organised at Namchi which had a solo exhibition of Ganesh Pradhan. On the occasion a special cover of Guru Padmashambha was issued.