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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Shining Silver Souvenir Promise

What an ingenious solution!

2010_12_22_9999_108 - C (1024x680)Hard cash is required (to pay the salaries, mostly) to continue the cleaning of Janabahaa. And, people do have a huge appetite for valuable mementos.

Just perfect!

A group of youths from Janabahaa, led by Bijay Shrestha, have come up with a plan to raise the much-needed funds by selling a limited number of specially-marked silver souvenirs. The 15-gram relic will be released on the occasion of the annual bathing ceremony of the image of Janbahaa Dyo (Karunamaya Aryavalokiteshor), which falls on January 12, 2011 this year, and will be available for sale to the public on first-come-first-served basis.

Pledge form.A lot of financial planning and resource mobilization goes into a task such as this. “Investment” for procuring the silver was raised from local individuals, who happily provided an interest-free loan of Rs. 25,000 each.

2010_12_22_9999_115 - C (1024x603)Each of the lenders has pledged that he/she will not ask that the money be returned until all the mementos are sold.

A small “profit” from the sale of each unit of the souvenir, amounting to no more than a couple of hundred rupees, will be deposited in the Janabahaa cleanliness fund.

As the souvenir will be of 99.9 % sterling silver, its monetary value is bound to appreciate quickly. Additionally, as the token is directly linked to Janabahaa Dyo, many people will consider it a priceless possession, of which they will want never let go.

If you wish to ensure that you get your unit of this unique sterling silver souvenir, book it today by calling Bijay Shrestha (cell: 977.98510.35097) or  Prabodh Kasaa (cell: 977.98414.79388).

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Monday, November 22, 2010

ANNOUNCEMENT: Weekly Free Clinics Resumed

imageDr. Matina Tuladhar has resumed her voluntary service as the physician on duty at the weekly clinics run by the Janabahaa Society (please see earlier post about this here).

Clinic timings are 8 am to 10 am every Saturday morning, and the venue is the Janabahaa Society office in the Janabahaa complex.

The clinic is completely free. All are welcome.

Note: Karunamaya Aryavalokiteshor (Janabahaa Dyo), being the compassionate one, is believed to relieve the suffering of his devotees. In earlier times, when the holy water from the shrine of Janabahaa Dyo was sprinkled on the sick, they would be cured. The free clinic is one more way to help relieve the suffering of the ailing and the needy in modern times.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Caption Contest

2010_11_18_9999_35 - Cropped (1280x851)Send in your caption to this photo. The caption should be thought-provoking or funny. Just type it in the comments box below and submit. Top five entries will be published in this blog.

Photo by Alok Tuladhar.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Repoussé art in Janabahaa

Repoussé (French, pronunciation: [ʁəpuse]) is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side. There are few techniques that offer such diversity of expression while still being relatively economical.

Repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front. The technique of repoussé utilises the plasticity of metal, forming shapes by degrees. There is no loss of metal in the process, as it is stretched locally and the surface remains continuous. The process is relatively slow, but a maximum of form is achieved, with one continuous surface of sheet metal of essentially the same thickness.

The zoom-able photo below shows some of the Repoussé art found on the ground floor or Janabahaa Dyo temple.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Dilemma No More

IMG_7577 (2)Not sure about the date of upcoming events and festivals? No problem. Just go to Janabahaa and check out the calendar hung next to the gate of the main shrine of Janabashaa Dyo.

This is an example of how Janabahaa has been of practical use in one’s daily life for centuries. The debate about the dates of the Swonti (or Tihar) festival this year is addressed by this calendar – which authoritatively states that the Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat 1131 New Year’s day falls on Sunday, November 7. Happy New Year!

Photo by Alok Tuladhar.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It's Gigapixels Now, No More Megapixels!

One of the topics covered in the photography workshop organized recently by the Janabahaa Society is this: Take some photos in Janabahaa with any mega-pixel camera. Or shoot with your mobile phone camera, or even with your old-school film camera. Then create extremely high-resolution (hundreds of giga-pixel per photo) with your shoot, and share it with the entire world instantaneously. Here is an example: You need the Adobe Flash player installed, and JavaScript enabled to use this viewer.

Photo by Alok Tuladhar.

Vote for... compassion

Being the only large space in the locality that is easy to secure, Janabahaa has been used by the government as a polling station for numerous elections in the past. Yet another contribution that Janabahaa makes to society.

The Election Commission is currently sending out teams all over the country to collect data on eligible voters. One such team arrived in Janabahaa on Monday. Many residents of Janabahaa enlisted themselves by providing the required information to the data collection team, ensuring that their voter's ID will be issued by the government in due course.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Janabahaa to Go On Air

Getting some close-up footage of the gilded copper repousse work on the Torana on the eastern facade of the temple.
Bodhi Television (All Tradition Buddhist TV Channel) is in the process of producing a short documentary about Janabahaa, with assistance from the Janabahaa Society.

Nabin Shakya of the caretaker priest clan talks about the various festivals related to Janabahaa.
The documentary will be aired on Nepal Television 2 soon. Do check out this blog periodically for an update on when the documentary will be aired.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Danke, Herr Nunnemann!

This is Friedlelm Nunnemann’s eighth visit to Nepal. He comes here every two years from Germany to trek the Himalayas, and in the course of his travels to Nepal, he has developed a deep interest in the unique heritage of Nepal. Sixty-eight year old Friedhelm (which means "peace helmet") is a retired exhaust emission and quality management expert who has worked for Mercedes and for the Environment Protection Agency of the United States government.

Friedhelm discovered an important document in November last year about a research carried by a Japanese university team about Janabahaa, and shared it with us. Details about that find are posted in this blog here.

Herr Nunnemann hanging out at Janabahaa.
Herr Nunnemann enjoys a cup of Nepali milk-and-sugar tea.

Herr Nunnemann gets introduced to Babu of the canine security corps of Janabahaa.

Friedhelm visited us at Janabahaa earlier this week and spent some time discussing the many architectural and artistic treasures of Janabahaa, and how his passion for Nepal’s heritage can be converted into something useful for a global audience who share his passion. He also made a generous cash donation to support the ongoing activities of the Janabahaa Society.

In honor of his continued interest and support to Janabahaa, we have decided to dedicate one of the flower pots that are being placed around the Janabahaa courtyard in his name.

Mit tiefer Dankbarkeit, unseren deutschen Freund! With deep gratitude, our German friend!

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Learning How to Click the Mouse

Photo by Bijay Shrestha
The first Photography Basics Workshop organized by the Janbahaa Society concluded today. The workshop not only helped draw the participants' attention to the living heritage of Janabahaa, but also helped to raise some much-needed funds to carry out the regular activities of the Society.

"Novice participants produced some fantastic results after just seven or eight hours of instruction," said instructor Alok Tuladhar. He continued proudly, "the workshop has definitely proved that Janabahaa is a wonderful location to practice photography."

Raj Prajapati, a participant, says, "My last SLR was a vintage Mamiya. I have now decided to buy the Canon 60D immediately. I feel I am already a semi-professional photographer, thanks to the workshop."

Shown here are some of the works produced by the participants during the course of the workshop.

Photo by Bijay Shrestha
Photo by Bijay Shrestha
Photo by Bijay Shrestha
Photo by Himan Raj Shrestha

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Compass Buddha

If you get lost, and there are no stars in the night sky to help you find the direction, just go to a chaitya near you and locate the Akshobhya Buddha. He always faces east.

Akshobhya (Sanskrit for “the Immovable One”) is the next important Buddha among the Dhyani Buddhas after Vairochana. Akshobhya was a monk who vowed never to feel anger or disgust at another being. He was immovable in keeping this vow, and after long striving, he became a Buddha.

Dhyani Buddhas are abstract aspects of Buddhahood. They are often called Tathagata or Pancha Buddha. They are so popular in Nepal that they are found in almost every chaitya, and found painted in the main entrance of many Buddhist houses.

Akshobhya is a heavenly Buddha who reigns over the eastern paradise, Abhirati. (Note that the eastern paradise is understood to be a state of mind, not a physical place.) Those who fulfill Akshobhya's vow are reborn in Abhirati and cannot fall back into lower states of consciousness.

In Buddhist iconography, Akshobhya usually is blue. He is most often pictured with his left hand resting on his lap, palm facing upward, and his right hand touching the earth, palm facing inward. This is the earth-touching mudra, which is the gesture used by the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautam) when he asked the earth to bear witness to his enlightenment.

In Buddhist tantra, evoking Akshobhya in meditation helps overcome anger and hatred.

So how many images of Akshobhya can be found in the Janabahaa complex? Well, it is surely worth counting.

Photo by Alok Tuladhar.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Soap Nuts and Elephant Ears

Much has been achieved in the course of the renovation and cleaning efforts undertaken in recent years in Janabahaa. Perhaps the most visibly striking result so far is the polishing of the Halampo (gilded copper repousse banners) hanging from the lower roof on the eastern face of the temple.

Age-old local techniques were used to remove the decades-old dirt (see earlier blog post entitled “Glitter under the Grime: Citrus Juice to the Rescue”). To give finishing touches to the cleaning job, two more home-grown commodities were used.

Hathan (Rittha or Soap Nuts). Scientific name Sapindus mukorossi. This natural soap is a locally grown product, and has been used traditionally as a natural cleanser.

Fakan (Karkalo or Elephant Ear/Taro). Scientific name Colocasia esculenta. The Elephant Ear plant grows in abundant quantities in the valley during the monsoon, and is used widely as a nourishing and tasty vegetable. The huge leaves of the plant is dried in the sun and boiled in water. The resulting liquid is applied on the soap-nut washed metal surface to bring out the rich glitter.

Finally, acrylic epoxy spray is applied on the surface for waterproofing.

The brilliantly-polished and waterproof Halampo will now hopefully remain so for the next few years, after which the whole process will need to be repeated.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Announcing... Photography Basics Workshop

The historic East Germany Contax S, 1949, the first pentaprism SLR for eye-level viewing. Photo © by Jeff Dean

Hands-on Photography Basics Workshop
(covers SLR Camera Basics, How to Take Good Photos, Digital Correction)

Time: 8.15 am to 10.15 am
Date: September 20 (Monday) to 24 (Friday), 2010
Venue: Janabahaa complex
Fee: Rs. 2,000 per person (all proceeds will go towards Janabahaa cleanliness fund)

To register, please call Alok Tuladhar at 9851012482.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Water! Water! Where art Thou?

The first picture (photo by Alok Tuladhar) is of a water fountain currently for sale in an “antiques” shop in downtown Bhaktapur. The second picture shows the original water fountain which had appeared in our earlier blog entry entitled "Cloud Lakes, Circle of Bliss and Creatures of the Rain Rivers."

Curious about this amazing work of art and its relevance to our modern day lives? Here are some excerpts from the article that appears in the online journal in which the original water fountain has been described in detail (“The Creatures of the Rain Rivers, Cloud Lakes: Newars Saw Them, So Did Ancient India” by Gautama Vajra Vajracharya, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and one of the foremost art historians of Nepal):

Most of the water fountains are simple, having only essential elements such as the makara spout and the images of yaksha or Bhagīratha... But some of them are much more elaborately designed as exemplified by the golden fountains of three royal palaces of the valley. Perhaps the best example is King Jitamitra Malla (reigned c. 1673-1696)’s contribution in his Bhaktapur palace (second pictured above). It shows huge head of the makara with its voluminous trunk raised upward. The makara has large eyes, curly horns, and short legs. On top of the spout, just behind the trunk an iguana like creature is crawling slowly. Both sides of the spout are crowded with aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures such as a snakes, crocodiles, ducks, turtles, and frogs and domesticated animals such as horses, goats and cows. Note also a conch shell near the foot of the makara. The human figure with bird’s feet and tail is indeed a kinnara; but in illustrated Newar iconographic texts this mythical figure is identified as jalamānus'a “aquatic man.” From the open jaws of the makara emerges a cow or a bull. This is indeed fascinating iconographic element of the Newar fountains.

Now comes the real interesting part. Continuation from Gautam V. Vajracharya’s article:

Epigraphic evidence tells us that some of these elements of water architecture go back to the Licchavi period (ca. 200-879 C.E.) or the transitional period (ca. 879-1200). During such a long period of history, the valley-dwellers developed admirable skills and techniques to bring water from considerable distances. An unpublished Sanskrit text entitled Vāriśāstra “Treatise on Water” describes how to build such water fountains. Currently, this small text is preserved in the collection of the National Archives in Kathmandu. Very likely it is composed in the valley because some part of the text is related to the technical and artistic features of the water fountains of the valley. Thus, it deserves special attention for a detailed study in the future.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Janabahaa, the Father's Day Blessing Center

Among the many days of the year that Janabahaa draws a large number of devotees, Bau Ya Khwa Swoyegu (Kushe Aunsi or Father’s Day) is probably the day it is most crowded. To pay homage to their deceased fathers, Newa (Newar) Hindus and Buddhists of Kathmandu throng to Janabahaa from early morning to offer prayers, food and money to Janabahaa Dyo and to receive blessings from priests stationed around the courtyard.

Typically, beaten rice, curd, fruits and sweets are offered to Janabahaa Dyo in memory of one's deceased father on Father's Day, which fell on September 10 this year.

A Bajey (Hindu priest) in Janabahaa offers blessings to a devotee on Father's Day.

A Lama priest (follower of Mahayan Buddhism) recites a prayer on behalf of a devotee after accepting a donation of some rice and money.

A Guruju (Vajrayana Buddhism priest) receives alms from a devotee.

Many vendors set up shop in Janabahaa to take advantage of the large crowd that gathers at Janabahaa on Father's Day, like this lady who put up a stall to sell Szechwan pepper (pimpinella anisum).

While providing blessings to devotees, this Hindu priest sold the holy Kush grass (Eragrostis cynosuroides) at his stall. Though used for religious ceremonies by both Hindus and Buddhists throughout the year, Kush is bought and sold only on Father's Day (hence the name Kushe Aunsi).

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Led by Dr. Naresh Man Bajracharya (noted tantric priest in the Newar tradition, Director of Buddhist Studies at Tribhuvan University and Fulbright Scholar in Residence, Virginia Commonwealth University), a group of over one hundred Shakyas and Bajracharyas went around different Bahaas and Bahis of Kathmandu to collect alms en masse on the occasion of Panchadaan festival on Monday, September 6, 2010.

This is the fourth year the group alms collection event has been organized to help raise funds for construction of a Vihar in Lumbini. More than a million rupees has been raised from the last three years of the joint alms collection effort.

Panchadaan festival is traditionally celebrated in honor of Dipankar Buddha, and individual members of the Newar Buddhist priest cast (Shakya and Bajracharya) go from house to house to receive offerings given by devotees and to give them blessings.

When the “brothers-in-alms” arrived at Janabahaa, they were warmly welcomed by devotees who were eagerly waiting to give offerings of rice and money, in keeping with the ancient Panchadaan tradition.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Going Green

To add some much needed greenery to this artistically rich, sacred heritage site of Janabahaa, we are adding a number of flower pots around the courtyard. If you wish to be involved in this task in any way, please leave a comment here with your contact details.

Photo by Alok Tuladhar.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Holy Cow! It's the Sa Paru Festival!

Almost all religious and cultural parades that take place during the course of various festivals in Kathmandu pass through the street in front of the main (eastern) entrace of Janabahaa, as it is located between Wongah (Indrachowk) and Ason, two of the most important thoroughfares in the older part of Kathmandu. Observing the Sa Paru (Gai Jatra) festival that fell on August 25 this year from the Janabahaa gate was a real visual treat.

Sa Paru, or Sa Yaa, celebrated in an extravagant manner in the Kathmandu Valley, is amongst the most colorful festivals of Nepal.

The mood in the streets is quite festive.

The local chapter of Rotary Club took advantage of the festival to spread awareness about recycling of household waste.

The Machhindra Rover/Ranger Crew of Nepal Scouts, affiliated to Macchindra Club, was present as usual, helping to distribute drinking water and to keep the area clean.

Cows, wrapped in shiny yellow cloth, are paraded through the city in memory of family members who have passed away over the last year.

Boys, dressed as cows, are often used as replacement of real cows to participate in the festival.

A lady enjoys the festival, sitting on the doorway of the recently rediscovered temple of Padmapani Lokeshwor.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Padmapani Rediscovered

See the little red temple on the right? For decades, everyone thought it was a Narayana temple. Devotees did not have access to it, as it was used as storage space by a "footpath" vendor who has been selling his merchandise on the street immediately in front of the temple.

When the illegitimate street stalls were removed a few weeks ago (see post on that here), the hawker finally agreed to relinquish the temple to the public.

To everyone's surprise, it turned out that a beautiful stone statue of the lotus-bearing Padmapani Lokeshwor was housed inside the little enclosure, and not an image of Narayan.

The temple has now been freshly painted and a board fixed above the gate to proclaim it to be a Lokeshwor temple. The temple is now open for the public.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.