Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sikkim Philatelists savor success at National Philatelic Exhibition

{A small state of Sikkim won a Silver and four Bronze medals at the recent National Philatelic Exhibition held at Ohkla , New Delhi on December 10-12 but the greatest achievement Sikkim made at the event was it made its presence felt among the other states.

I last participated at the National Philatelic Exhibition was at Chennai in December 2008 and the moment I found my possibility to be part of Delhi National Exhibition I could not let my excitement go off. The organizing committee wanted me to be the State Representative of my state which I happily agreed. There was an expectation that Sikkim would send a maximum entry at the exhibition to which I am crossing up my fingers. I had a talk with Ganesh Pradhan, President of Sikkim Philatelic Society and he too voiced that we should send more entries than the last exhibition. Last December Sikkim had send three entries at Vadodara Single Frame National Exhibition where Roshan Prasad and I went to win individual Sapphire Award for the state. But this time around there was lots of expectation for us and also for our small philatelic Club. 

We wanted to give our best and we had shortlisted six members to participate for the Delhi event. We had with us Ganesh Pradhan, Shital Pradhan, Deepen Pradhan, CP Raya, Padam Parajuli and Sumnima Parajuli. It was just a couple of days before the submission of fees CP Raya withdrew himself from the event owing to health reason. It was a major setback for us since CP Raya was an important and a senior member of our Philatelic club and we had anticipated a nice show from him. His three frame entry was replaced by three members of the club that included Sushil Karthak, Sudarshan Pradhan and Sristikaa Pradhan, my daughter. Arrangements for Rs 500 per exhibit for the competition were arranged and send to Delhi. Our participating entry had two girls in Sumnima and Sristikaa; it was an encouraging sign for our club. 

This looked a pretty good population to represent Sikkim at the National level event much more than the previous three participants we had in the last National exhibition. Roshan Prasad was participating in three frames on Cricket theme and rest in single frame exhibits. Ganesh Pradhan Indian Personality), Shital Pradhan (Sikkim through Philately), Deepen Pradhan (Pre Independence Stamps of India), Padam Parajuli (Media through Philately), Sushil Karthak (Extinct Countries), Sudarshan Pradhan ( Philatelic Exhibition through Philately) Sumnima Parajuli (Children of different world through stamps) and Sristikaa Pradhan (Buddha, Buddhism and Philately). I had also participated in a Philatelic related literature competition at the event. For that my entry was an article on Sikkim Rocket Mail, I had written for Talk Sikkim couple of months back.

Since being a State Representatives I had to leave for Delhi ahead of the other members who were to be present at the event at Delhi. I had with me eleven exhibits and left for Delhi along with my cousin brother Praveen Pradhan via NJP railway station. Along with me were exhibits of Shashank Agarwal, Vivek Agarwal and Ashoke Das from Siliguri I had received at the railway platform. On reaching Delhi I handed over the exhibits to Savita Jhingan, Head of organizing committee. 

The three day long philatelic festival began from December 10th at Okhla. But the biggest surprise awaited me that day when Shri Karan Singh MP (Rajya Sabha) came to the NSIC Exhibition Hall as the Chief Guest. I have seen this person in photographs taken at Sikkim in 70s along with Chogyal of Sikkim and watching him in front of me was something unexplainable. He visited every displayed frame in the Hall and over an hour he left the scene. While returning back everyone was taking his autograph and I too wanted a one for my collection. I did not had any paper and from the nearby person standing beside me I asked for a blank page and went to Shri Singh and asked for the autograph and the reply he had for me was – I don’t sign in blank page, and he went off leaving me stranded.
Over 780 entries from different state of India had arrived for the Exhibition. It was nice to come across old friends while some new friends were also made. I had been following Sikkim Rocket mail since 2001 and I had seen numerous scans related to that experiment. For the first time I came across a Sikkim Rocket Gram of 1935 being sold at a Stamp Stall inside the Hall that was too costly for me to buy. That Rocket Gram was flown from Gangtok along with a hen (I still recall I have written in my previous issue about the rooster mail at Sikkim Rocket Mail Experiment. Just to hold a part of Sikkim History was a pride feeling for me. Hope someday I shall have it in my collection. 

Two days passed by in a whisker it was stamps, stamps and stamps for us, by now Ganesh Pradhan, Deepen Pradhan and Sushil Karthak had arrived at Delhi. Ganesh Pradhan is the man behind the famed Ram Gauri Shangralaya at Rhenock. In his early 60s he is a person of encouragement for everyone. As a President of our Sikkim Philatelic Society he has performed numerous Philatelic related workshops over the years to promote philately in Sikkim. When it is about Stamps his eagerness and excitements he is too young for his age. He never tires up to share information about any query one needs at. 

The third day of the Exhibition was also the award day and by the noon time every one gathered inside the Hall cheer the winners. We were also there keeping our finger crossed. The first of the awards ceremony included a medal for the State Representatives. It was nice to watch different individual from their respective states receiving their medals and I was also one of them. The people were bit confused and in disbelief to hear someone from Sikkim gathering a medal in philatelic presence. Dipok Dey, senior philatelist from Kolkata along with S Sukhani, philatelist from Kolkata read the list of winners. To our surprise we received one silver and four bronze. Roshan Prasad won the lone silver while Deepen, me and Sristikaa got one bronze each while I received the other bronze for my Rocket Mail article that was published at Talk Sikkim. I went to the dais to receive four of the five awards and it was a proud feeling that people was noticing that a small state of Sikkim was getting such honour. I am happy we made our presence in national scene. I am happy for Sristikaa, my daughter of six, i am teaching her about stamp collection and I had chosen her theme on Buddha since she can identify him. It is sure it will give her more encourage in days to come.

After the event, every one congratulated us and they were happy that Sikkim had made its presence felt in Indian Philately. I still recall Dipok Dey calling me up and told me he was proud of our achievement and Sikkim Philately had made its ground at national level, he joyfully said.

The National Philatelic event at Delhi had many “first” for the small state of Sikkim. The highest number of philatelists (9) from Sikkim represented the state at National event, out of which two were girls. Roshan Prasad became the first Sikkimese to win a Silver medal at National event. Shital Pradhan became the first Sikkimese to win a medal at National Philatelic Literature Competition. Sristikaa Pradhan became the first girl from Sikkim to win a medal at National Event. When I am writing this article there is talks between members of Sikkim Philatelic Society that Philatelic Exhibitions in Sikkim shall be held on different places from March onwards, next year.