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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Children of Karunamaya

Kids will be kids, right? Not really. They grow up. But hopefully they do not leave behind their love for books as they grow older. These two teenage girls came to Janabahaa one fine afternoon, only to find the increasingly popular library at the Janabahaa Society office closed for the day. No problem – as long as there are books available, they are willing to read.

Children playing are a major tourist attraction.

This is a healthy looking child, by any standard. Her mother, one of the designated full-time sweepers at Janabahaa, has recently enrolled her at a privately run pre-school.

Child carrying child.

Janabahaa is one of the few open spaces in downtown Kathmandu where children can play, relax, bask in the winter sun or enjoy many cultural and religious activities that take place throughout the year.

Smriti (left) and Devika (middle) live with their parents, grandmother and younger brother in a rented flat (or is it a rented room?) inside Janabahaa. Their mother, who is the newer of their father's two wives, sells flowers in the courtyard every morning, and washes clothes and dishes for neighborhood families all day to earn a livelihood for the family, despite her ailing back. Their father boozes away from midday to midnight at a watering hole in Kilagal, after a brief stint at the flower stall in the morning. Both these girls go to a free government school in Itumbaha, but their younger brother gets to go to a private '"boarding" school. The color of the girls' hair shows the extent of their malnutrition, but they are as happy and spirited as any child should be. Looking at the way things are going for this family, it is quite unlikely that it will take a turn for the better any time soon. Meanwhile, Karunamya looks on...

Names have been changed for obvious reasons. All photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sano Sasar a Complete House Full

The special screening of Sano Sansar organized to raise funds for Janabahaa Society (see earlier blog about this here) was a complete sell-out. Seen in the picture above is the "hero" of the film Mahesh Man Shakya (with dark glasses), his mother (sitting) and his father Mahendra Man Shakya (with baseball hat) at Jai Nepal cinema just before the special show. We had estimated we would be able to sell about 50 tickets, as they were priced quite steeply at Rs. 500 each, but we ended up selling 85 at the end. Special thanks to Mahendra Man Shakya, who happens to be one of the officiating priests of Patan's much reverred Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna Mahavihar or Kwa Bahaa), for coming up with this idea. Not only did he organize the whole event, but also personally contributed to the Janabahaa Society funds -- an additional cash input for each ticket sold on top of the savings from the Rs. 500 ticket sales after deducting expenses. At the end of the day, we collected close to a whopping Rs. 30,000 for Janabahaa Society from this one screening of the film! Music videos, wallpapers and other details of the film can be found here. We wish Sano Sansar grand success, and also wish a glistening career to Mahesh Man Shakya.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Room to Read

As the number of books in the mini library at the Janabahaa Society office grows, so does the number of children dropping by to read those books. Many children from the neighborhood are dropping in regularly and asking if new books have arrived. In most cases, children who come to use the library are from low income families, and their schools do not have library facilities, nor do they have the opportunity or means to join other public libraries. Donations of used books, especially children's books, would be highly appreciated. Books of any language would do, especially if they have some picutres in them. Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"How to Build a Nepali Temple in Thirty Days" by Sushma Joshi

Awesome… people nowadays are not only renovating temples, like the one at Janabahaa, but are also building new ones from scratch, following centuries-old architectural style and technique. Check out this blog by established writer and filmmaker Joshi and read all about an amazing feat unfold before our very eyes in modern day Kathmandu -- THE GLOBAL AND THE LOCAL: How to Build a Nepali Temple in Thirty Days. Photos of the temple being built in Sanepa will be upload right here, soon. Please do come back again.

Update (September 12, 2008):
Okay, here are the promised pictures, and then some. We were so impressed with the upcoming temple when we visited it today, we decided we will get actively involved in supporting that project and help complete it. To start with, we have created a new blog site to cover this unique project. Click here to go there.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shanti Swasti Path and Ayutahuti Yagya concludes at Janabahaa

Remember the chariot that toppled over in April?

Apparently there is a way to negate the sins committed by we mortals that might have caused a major disaster like that. In a bid to ask for forgiveness and compassion from The Compassionate One (Karunamaya), an elaborate Hom (homa puja: the ritual of offering grain and clarified butter into the sacred fire, page 483, Karunamaya: The Cult of Avalokiteswara – Matsyendranath In the Valley of Nepal by John K. Locke, S.J., Sahayogi Prakashan, Kathmandu, 1980) ceremony was conducted at Janabahaa premises during the last three days. As the first half of the name (Shanti Swasti Path) of this rare and unique event implies, several priests recited prayers as per Vajrayana Buddhist tradition with the objective of eradicating any bad luck that might befall the population because of the accident with the chariot.

The event culminated in a big feast today where hundreds of devotees, locals and VIPs were invited.
Photo of fallen chariot courtesy of All other photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Meeting Decides NOT to Move Janabahaa Dyo Out During Renovation

After much powwowing, it has been decided, at least for now, that he will stay put in his seat, right where he is now. The topic of hot, and so far healthy, debate that has been going on for some time is regarding the best way to deal with the main image of Aryavalokiteshor (or Janabahaa Dyo) during the imminent renovation of the central chamber where it resides (earlier blog entry on this topic can be found at

During a meeting held on September 4 at Janabahaa, experts put forth their arguments and opinions for and against moving the image out of the inner sanctum while the wooden beams directly above it are replaced. Many theories were analyzed, especially in light of the meticulous measurements of the physical structure taken recently and other important details that came to light while exploring the internal architecture of the temple.

Experts invited to this meeting included, among others, Purusottam Dangol, who had written a book entitled “Elements of Nepalese Temple Architecture” published by Adroit Publishers in 2007 (ISBN 81-87392-77-0) and Pancha Ratna Bajracharya (aka Indra Guruju) of Bhinchhe Bahal, Lalitpur who had undertaken much of the woodwork at the Great Lotus Stupa built by the Tara Foundation of Germany in Lumbini.

It was finally agreed at this meeting that it was safe enough to put up a strong plank on top of the image of Janabahaa Dyo to protect it from falling debris while wooden beams on the ceiling directly overhead are pulled out one by one and new ones inserted in their place. Now, the question is, though it would be easy enough to take out the old beams, what kind of challenges would come up while sliding in new ones in their place, given the limited working space available? The inner chamber is small enough (9 ft. square) as it is, and the image of Janabahaa Dyo lying therein needs to be protected from any physical damage during the process.

And the fact remains that no one but designated caretaker priests (dyo pala gurujus) can co inside the inner chamber to carry out the carpentry and masonry works – whether or not they have the skill (see earlier blog entry about this at

Nevertheless, the decision not to move the deity out of its abode does save us all from a lot of hassles, as moving it out entails following very stringent religious rites and carrying out elaborate (read resource-hungry) ritual ceremonies. Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Presentations from 1st Annual Meet

UK-based Surendra Sthapit has put in a lot of time and effort to convert the PowerPoint presentations made during the 1st Annual Meet of Janabhaa Society (held on June 28, 2008 at Janabahaa) to web presentation format so that they can be viewed online. Sumati Bajracharya’s presentation on the history of Janabahaa can be viewed here, and Sampurna Tuladhar’s presentation on future plans can be viewed here. It was also Surendra who came up with the idea of making the presentations available online via Google’s Picasa web album service. Thanks for your wonderful contribution, Surendra.

Monday, September 01, 2008

"Sano Sansaar" to be screened in aid of Janabahaa Society

Upcoming Nepali feature film Sano Sansar will be screened at Jai Nepal cinema at 5:15 pm on September 15, Monday to help raise funds for Janabahaa Society. Thanks to Mahendra Man Sakya of Tej Bhawan, Lazimpat for coming forward with this idea and for subsidizing the cost of the tickets. Please email or call Jai Rajbhandari (98510-54113) if you wish to purchase tickets to this special screening of the film. The lead actor and actress will be present during the screening. Here is a synpopsis of the film:

Ravi is an average guy who has just graduated from college. Like most average guys, he doesn't know what he wants in life. Reetu is a not so average girl knows what she doesn't want. Suraj is a sureheaded fellow who knows exactly what he wants in life. Manoj Sizapati (aka Siza) wants what every guy wants ;) ;)

Little do they know that they are living in a Sano Sansar where everyone knows everyone even if they think they do not know them...

Manuscripts (and More?)

A few years ago, one of the more conscious priests during his tenure as caretaker (dyo pala) discovered several ancient handwritten manuscripts written in Ranjana script within the inner confines of Janabahaa Dyo temple, and had it professionally digitized and analyzed at a local archive, thus saving it permanently for the benefit of posterity. Most of the manuscripts he had found had been partially damaged by fire, insects or rats. As his tenure at the temple came to an end after a month, he was left wondering what else was stored in the temple that could give invaluable information relating to our past. Right now, as the present renovation works are in progress, many are asking whether we will find any more of those lost documents or other valuable relics. This would definitely be the best opportunity to explore, for a long time to come.