Sunday, December 08, 2019

Singtam Sakha: Towards new horizon

(Information collected from TB Pradhan and Binod Pradhan)

(The term Singtam Sakha started in early 90s and over the years it has its own narrative. Blessed by Goddess Kumari and God Indra, the newars of Singtam are among the emerging Sakhas who holds promises to make the Newars of Sikkim, a proud family.)

In a grand occasion of 25th anniversary of the formation of Sikkim Newar Guthi, with rest of Sikkim, the newars of Singtam too unites to recollect their efforts and hard work towards the development of the Newar community. Those were the sweet and sour memories that went on to build up today’s organisation into strong and brought the newars of Singtam under one umbrella.
The establishments of Singtam bazaar dates back to late 1880s and with each decade passing by the people of Singtam had collectively came together in all the social causes with other communities to build up a better society. The initial years of Bhanu Jayanti celebrations, Independence Day celebrations, Saga Dawa celebrations and others had equal numbers of Newar participations. Despite no proper organisation, the newars of Singtam had been performing their respective rituals in full newar tradition.

With the coming up of Sikkim Newar Guthi in the early 90s, the newar communities of Singtam too felt a need of forming an organisation thus Singtam Newar Guthi was born. Late Dil Bahadur Pradhan was the first President of the Singtam organisation while Subhash Pradhan was the Secretary.  Meetings and discussions about the development of the Newar society were held behind the four walls. Old folks say, those Newars thou lesser in population then started the practice of visiting the funerals among the Newar community in groups which still exists to this day. Giving helping hands during the marriage ceremony be it Ihi was also planned by those pioneer thoughts.

With the wheel of a clock passing-by, the year 2009 proved to be significant one for the Newars of Singtam. A meeting of was held on December 21, 2009 at Bihari Dharamsala at Singtam. A day long program was held that had discussions on various topics for the betterment of the community. The committee formed on the day decided to name the organisation as Singtam Newar Kalyan Sangathan.
The new resolution passed in the meeting included major presence of the Newari women from Singtam in the organisation towards better society. Also included in the talks was the encouragement of Newari language and Newari customs among the people. Newari members from Golitar, Manpari Busty, Sirwani, Toppakhani, Sang Khola, Bardang, Sawaney, Shanti Colony, Lal Bazaar, Mandir Line and Shantinagar had attended the meeting.

The new body had TB Pradhan as the President, Saran Pradhan as Vice President, Mohan Pradhan “Neeraj” as General Secretary. Singtam Newar Kalyan Sangathan did the first in the state when they felicitated five Singtam Nagar Panchayats on June 6th, 2010. The event was witnessed by huge crowd that also included from other communities. Am Prasad, MLA Khamdong – Singtam was the chief guest on the occasion that also had other distinguished guests in RK Pradhan, President Sikkim Newar Guthi, Jas Lal Pradhan, Arjuna Awardee and others. The function also marked the first cultural presentation of the famed Lakhey Dance of Newar community performed at Singtam by Bikash Pradhan.

On September 11th, 2010 for the first time, Singtam Newar Kalyan Sangathan made their presence at the Annual General Meeting cum Election of the Executive body of Sikkim Newa Guthi held at Gangtok. TB Pradhan congratulated the new team of RK Pradhan (President), DP Shrestha (Vice President), DK Maskey (Secretary) and others.  He assured full support in any sort of programme organised by central committee for the development of Newar society.
There was a meeting held in early 2011 whereas it was decided to buy utensils and chairs at the name of Sangathan that would be used by the members of the organisation. Collection was made; few members of SKNS travelled to Siliguri and bought the items, a room was hired to keep the utensils.
Newars of Singtam participated in large numbers at the India Jatra 2011 held at Gangtok. Since then, the Newars of Singtam had been actively participating and contributing at the Indra Jatras held at different part of Sikkim. At the same event held at Sikkim Government College Auditorium, Tadong, Shital Pradhan, Publicity Incharge, Singtam Newar Kalyan Sangathan was felicitated by the Sikkim Newar Guthi Youth Affairs for his contribution Sikkim Heritage and Philately. He was among the seven Newar personalities awarded on that night. 

In between the years, Singtam Newar Kalyan Sangathan continued with their social activities. They collected the sum of Rs 20,500 for Santa Bahadhur Pradhan, resident of Bardang, towards his medical treatment of throat cancer. SKNS again came forward for the medical contribution of a Lepcha lady, Incharge of Lee Al then. The sum of Rs 10,000 was contributed.
With the expansion of Zones among the Sikkim Newar Guthi a meeting was held at Singtam that was attended by the Executive members of Sikkim Newar Guthi, TB Pradhan was elected the first President of Rangpo- Singtam Zone (September 5, 2013). Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’ was nominated the President of Singtam Newar Kalyan Sangathan. In the same meeting, SNKS placed a proposal to the Central Body to celebrate the Indra Jatra 2013 at Singtam.
In 2013 (June 25), the members of SNKS attended the Annual General Meeting cum Election of the Executive body of Sikkim Newa Guthi at Chintan Bhawan, Gangtok. They congratulated Rohit Kumar Pradhan for being elected President for the third term.

The biggest news for the Newars of Singtam came on August 2014; the central committee accepted the proposal of SKNS for organising Indra Jatra 2014 at Singtam. Two coordination meetings were held at Community Hall, Singtam. TB Pradhan was selected President, Indra Jatra Celebration Committee 2014 while Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’ was made General Secretary, Indra Jatra Celebration Committee 2014.
The red letter day September 8, 2014, Singtam took an honour to receive Goddess Kumari other than Gangtok for the first time. State Level Indra Jatra Celebration held at Singtam marked a historic moment. The Indra Jatra event was organised by Sikkim Newar Guthi and hosted by Indra Jatra Celebration Committee 2014, Singtam.
The festivity was held in two phases; the morning (the ritual) session and the noon (cultural) session. Somnath Poudhyal, Area MLA cum Minister, Food Security & Agriculture & AHVS was the Chief Guest of the morning session that included Indra Rath Poojan and Kumari Jatra. The puja was performed by Parampujiya Guruji Shri Shri Suryabir Tuladhar from Swayambu Mandir, Gangtok. Thousands of Newars from different corner of the state had visited Singtam, the venue of the event.
The afternoon session started with the arrival of Ugen T Gyatso, Minister Tourism and Aviation, who also was the Chief Guest of the cultural event. Highlight of the second session was the release of ‘NEWA’, a documentary on Newar Language and Culture. The documentary was made by Badhaichha Creation, Singtam; jointly directed by Shital Pradhan and Praveen Pradhan. Different cultural programmes were performed by the participants.
The tragic April 2015 Nepal Earthquake happened, here too SNKS acted prominently and being a good neighbour collected the sum of Rs 1,28,601. A team was led by TB Pradhan visited the earthquake site along with essential goods and handed over the items and financial help to the concerned officials. Donation towards Rongli Monastery was done few months latter.
Time took a major facelift, Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi, Singtam was formed in the month of December 2018 to organise a Newa Language class in winter vacation. The first meeting was held at the premises of L.N.Pradhan and was attended by Binod Pradhan, Singtam Bazaar, Vijay Pradhan, Golitar, L.N.Pradhan, Shantinagar, Hem Kumari Pradhan, Lower Tinek, Dhiraj Pradhan, Lower Tinek, Manoj Pradhan, Lower Tinek, Shital Pradhan, Shantinagar and Sishir Pradhan, Shantinagar.
The name “Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi” was selected among a list of names suggested by Bikash Pradhan, Newa Language Coordinator, HRDD. “Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi” means a place of learning Newa language.
L.N.Pradhan was made Chief Advisor while Binod Pradhan was made President. Rest of the executives was also selected. Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi came together to work towards the preservation and conservation of Newar culture and custom of Singtam. Over the short period of time many activities was accomplished.  
A month long Newa Language Speaking and Learning Course (Jan 6 – Feb 3, 2019) was held at Singtam Senior Secondary School. Around 57 students of all age of life had participated. The valediction program was held in presence of Shyam Pradhan, MLA Arithang, Dilu Kr. Maskey, President, Sikkim Newar Guthi, H.P.Pradhan, Vice President, Sikkim Newar Guthi, and others. Bikash Pradhan, Babita Pradhan, Nirmala Pradhan, Tara Pradhan and Meena Pradhan, were the teachers. For this Course, four member team of NBB led by Binod Pradhan, President had visited Dharan and Kathmandu with the permission letter from Sikkim Newar Guthi to look for Newar teacher.
The small effort of NBB was appreciated at the 1st Sikkim Newar Youth Convention 2019 held at Nepali Dharamsala, Singtam on February 24, 2019. They were awarded the Best Upcoming Sakha of Sikkim for the year 2018-2019.
The meet draw attention to sensitize youths towards Newa's rich culture and tradition. Unity of Sikkim Newars for its further development was the focus of the day. The lecturers presented on the day highlighted to look upon the solution of the problems faced by the Newars of Sikkim.
Twenty days Summer Classes for Newa Language Learning, Traditional Dance and Recipe Cooking Class from July 1, 2019 was organised. Laxmi Sakya, Member, Newa Deya Dabu, Tamsipakha, Kathmandu and Yogbir Sakya, Kalimpong were the teachers. Executive members of Sikkim Newar Guthi represented by Sushen Pradhan, Secretary, Sikkim Newar Guthi Youth Affairs and others. Thirty individuals had registered their names for the classes.
"Kwati Purne" was celebrated on August 18 with great enthusiasm at Nepali Dharmasala by Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi, Singtam. More than 80 people of different ages in and around Singtam were invited. Chief Guest for the day was Saran Pradhan, President, Singtam Nagar Panchayat. It was an effort to create awareness of Newar festivals.
A team of 10 members of NBB attended the first ever Bhimsen Jatra held at Rongli, East Sikkim. They handed over the contribution of Rs 8,000 towards the Bhimsen Jatra Committee.  Members of NBB participated in a programme organised by Akhil Bharatiya Newar   Sangathan at Chilauney, Doars, West Bengal.
Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi, represented Singtam at the Annual General Meeting of Sikkim Newar Guthi held at Gangtok. Members of NBB participated in 207th Bhanu Jayanti Celebration at Shantinagar, Singtam organised by Shantinagar Gaon Sudhar Samiti. They participated at the 73rd Independence Day celebration in Singtam and sponsored winner tropies of cultural programme.
In the recent development, the team of Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi released their own T-shirt with their logo. The opening of the T-shirt was done on the auspious occasion of Indra Jatra 2019 where members were divided to attend both the events at Dentam and Gangtok. At Dentam Indra Jatra members of NBB participated at the culture program and were awarded a souvenir.
Major contribution for the construction of the Newar Bhawan at Gangtok was made by Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi, Singtam when they contributed One Lakh towards Newar Bhawan Fund.  Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi, Singtam contributed Rs 10,500 towards relief fund for helping the affected families of land slide at Tshong Village,Yuksom, West Sikkim that occurred on September 16.
On October 17, 2019 two members of Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi, Aadarsh Pradhan and Reshma Pradhan visited Ranka SSS to teach the students Newari Folk Dance for the Kala Ustav 2019. Letter of appreciation was send in the name of President, Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi
As the old phrase goes by...if you rest you rust, following to it, the members of Newa Bhay Bowneykuthi, Singtam is regularly having meetings and discussion for the encouragement of Newari tradition and culture.

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