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Saturday, August 30, 2008

To Take Him Out… or Not to Take Him Out

The topic of hot debate right now is what to do with the image of Karunamaya Aryavalokiteshor during the renovation period. Since the image lies directly below the beams that need to be replaced, there is high risk of debris falling on top of the image and damaging it while beams are removed or new ones are inserted on the ceiling above the image. Hence, one school of thought is that the image should be relocated while repair works are being carried out. On the other hand, it is also true that if technicians work carefully enough and proper measures are taken to prevent debris from falling on top of the image, it will not have to be relocated. Intense discussions are being held every day among technical team members and caretaker priests (dyo pala) to come up with the safest and most practical solution. Here is a picture of the image, sans the ornaments and garments it is adorned with every day.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Renovation Works Officially Launched

Wednesday, August 27 was determined to be an astrologically auspicious day to commence the renovation works. On that day, a Kalash Puja ceremony was performed at the temple premises by members of the Aryavalokiteshor Sarbasangha, which formally launched the repair works. Though not much work was actually carried out on that day (as everybody will be busy with religious duties until the ongoing Gunla festivities are over), one very important task was achieved – detailed measurements were taken of some inner structures of the temple, including those of the present wooden beam configurations and their exact placements in the brickwork. In the process, a portion of a beam that was in decrepit condition was actually pulled out. Data thus obtained will be vital in determining exactly how the main wooden beams (that have deteriorated very badly due to age and insects) in the central chamber will be replaced. Consultations are being held currently among experienced engineers and other highly qualified technicians to decide on the safest mechanism of removing the weakened beams and placing new ones in their place. Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Approval received from Puratatwa

In response to the application we had submitted to the Department of Archeology of the Government of Nepal, we have today received official notification from the Department that the renovation works that are being planned may be undertaken. Here is the letter received from the Department. Thanks to Jai Rajbhandari for following up with the Department for getting the approval, and for using his contacts there to get the formalities completed without any delay.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reflect, Deliberate, Contemplate… to come up with a solution

As the date for the temple renovation works draws closer, interest in the finer details of the upcoming task is getting deeper. So far, we have had visual evidence of the run-down condition of the beams only of the frontal chamber, but today we got some pictures of the beams of the inner chamber. Look closely at the areas marked with the red ovals. One can clearly see all the way through to the masonry (brick, mud, etc. that forms the flooring on the upper storey) that lies on top of the wooden beams. The masonry can be seen because large portions of the beams have been completely destroyed by termites and other insects. You can click on each picture for a larger version.

These are pictures of beams directly above the deity of Janabahaa Dyo. Now, this does pose a significant problem, as no one but select members of the Aryavalokiteshor Sarbasangh (or Dyo Pala gurujus) are allowed to go into that section of the temple. And naturally none of them possess the masonry and carpentry skills required for the work in hand. Time for some deep contemplation… there has to a solution to this…

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The origin of Newaa

In response to Shreena Tuladhar's article on the second edition of Janabahaa e-News, Daya Ratna Shakya of Portland, USA has sent in this comment:

"Jwajalapa to all

From my limited knowledge on the mentioned subject what I can speculate here is that Kirant ( not Kiranti) and Newah share some common features in linguistics. But culturally they are very distant in current context. The word kirat was hypothesized as compound form of /ki/ ( rice) and /raat/(Meat). Newars also prepefer to consume meat and rice. This is the only speculation we can find in resources. But linguistically Kiraat and Newah share many features.These features are still availabe in Dolakha nad Pahari dialect. But do not match with Yen, Yala, Khwapa, Pyangao, and Chitlang. These dialects share the feature with Bhot Burmesealong with Tamang. Gurung and Thakali(TGT language). For more details please see Nepal Ritu pau titled Article( jhiigu bhaaye Sarbanaamik jakan Makhulaa? ) published 15 years ago. Subhaaye


He also sent us a diagram proving his point (see left).

This is the kind of feedback and constructive discussion we were hoping for as an impact of the newsletter. It is very gratifying to see it happen so quickly. Keep sending your suggestions, opinions and criticism. That would be food for our brains, and will keep us going.

Monday, August 18, 2008

e-News # 2

Whew! We finally managed to get the second issue of the newsletter out, albeit one day late. Again, we have a very encouraging response to this edition already: one of the readers, Dipak Tuladhar of Lal Durbar, saw the article on Gunla by Shreena Tuladhar and asked if it could be published in the annual Asan Gunla Bajan magazine. We are highly motivated by reactions like this, and encourage all to give us feedback so that we can be more effective with the newsletter. Let us know how you like it, or if you like it at all. Send us suggestions on what needs to be included. Tell us if the pictures are too big... or too small. All you have to do it just post your comment right here, or simply email us at, and judge for yourself how responsive we are to your responses. :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Notice to Government About Renovation Works

One of the decisions made during the first meeting of the temple renovation ad-hoc committee held on Nepal Sambat 1128 Gunlathwo Tritiya (today) was to officially inform the concerned body of the government about the renovation works being planned. A letter to that effect was submitted to the Department of Archaeology today itself.

Photos depicting the crumbling, decaying condition of the beams (given below) were also attached to the letter to highlight the urgency of undertaking renovation works immediately. These photos were taken by Alok Tuladhar in October 2006.

1st Meeting of Janabahaa Dyo Temple Renovation Ad-hoc Committee

The first meeting of the seven-member temple renovation ad-hoc committee (formed as per the decision made during the meeting called by Aryavalokiteswara Sarbasangh on July 26, 2008) was held today at the Janabahaa Society office.

Here is the invitation to the meeting (in Nepal Lipi script)...

...and the minutes of the meeting (in English, sic!).

Among the members of the committee, Bijay Shrestha and Bal Krishna Prajapati could not make it to this meeting. Ashok Shakya could not attend since he was on duty as the official priest at the Janabahaa Dyo temple since the last three days, till the rest of the holy month of Gunla. Click on the pictures above for larger versions. Sorry, no one took pictures of today’s meeting.

Friday, August 01, 2008

“Yo Bajya, Gahanki Phoney”

The lanky, gray-haired lady in the middle of the picture is a familiar face at Janabahaa. Every morning, she occupies her own little corner, begging alms from devotes that throng there. Today, she came back in the afternoon as well, having decided that Janabahaa was a place as good as any to size up her collection and pack them up neatly in big bundles, that were later taken home on a rickshaw by her family.

Following centuries old custom in Kathmandu valley, lower caste families of the Newar community, especially the Podey caste, go out begging alms in town during solar and lunar eclipses. Holding out a basket for people to throw money, grains or clothes in, they holler, “Yo Bajya, Gahanki Phoney” for all to hear. If one is to assume that “Gahanki” is a corrupt form of Grahan (or eclipse), one could easily conclude that “Gahanki Phoney” translates to begging of alms while an eclipse is in progress.

Though “bajya” means grandfather in Nepal Bhasa, it is also a term used sarcastically when addressing someone who is projected as superior, especially if one feels he/she is being forced to address that person with respect where it is not due. In today’s context, traditions that vividly demonstrate class discrimination and public humiliation of the lower caste by the upper caste, such as the Gahanki Phoney tradition, should be made outright illegal.

A partial solar eclipse that occurred over Kathmandu skies today could not be viewed because of peak monsoon clouds. Photos by Alok Tuladhar.