London Oct 25th 2009
In a time honoured fashion, PPGUK successfully celebrated the dawn of Nepal Sambat 1130 & auspicious Mha Puja festival this year at Hammersmith Town Hall at Kings Street in London. This event culminated to bring together PPGUK branches from Plumstead, Reading, Aldershot and Wales for the first time on this merry occasion. The event was graced by over 700 enthusiastic guests representing leading figures in the Newa community, various organisations, along with friends and well wishers from all walks of life. All guests were welcomed into the hall by a procession of Pancha Kanyas applying Tika blessing, symbolised by a smear of red vermillion mixed with yogurt and rice.
The programme raised its curtains with chief guest, Charge d’Affaires at the Nepalese Embassy, Mr Jhabindra P Aryal lighting the auspicious Sukunda with the musical milieu of the Mangal Dhun on stage. As President of PPGUK, Mr Krishna Chakhun welcomed all the guests with the customary Bhintuna, and conveyed his gratitude for the support and goodwill on behalf of the organising committee. Dr Bal Gopal Shrestha shed some light on the significance of Nepal Sambat and Mha Puja, while Dr David Gellner, Professor of Social Anthropology at Oxford University, presented the latest edition of the official PPGUK scribe, the Guthi Magazine. He was accompanied on stage by editor of Guthi Magazine Mr Shashi Mahaju.
The cultural programme then took centre stage with songs and musical performances by Prayas Band, Kishore Gurung, Damber Subba, Binod Shrestha, Sabin Rajbhandari, Kritan Chakhun, Manan Chakhun, Anju Shrestha, Sagun Shakya, Satish Rajbhandari, Anjan Budhathoki and Pabitra Man Shakya. This was complemented by a good blend of traditonal and modern dances by Binu Hada, Bimala Maharjan, Sabnam Joshi and Erina Rajbhandari. Guests agreed the highlight of the cultural programme was the Dhime Baja, Pulu Khishi and Lakhe Dance exhibited by Binod Chipalu and Rameshwor Saiju. The cultural programme was followed by Mr Suresh Baidya and children from his Academy presenting a Wushu Martial arts display for guests to enjoy.
The curtain call was done by General Secretary of PPGUK, Mr Rameshwor Shrestha, expressing his gratefulness to all the participants of the event and awarding the artists and PPGUKs Football Team with certificates of appreciation. All the guests were presented with Sagan blessing and Swanti Jajanka and Masala Pwah with the New Year greetings. A scrumptious traditional Newa meal was served for the guests on a Laptya leaf platter.
The event was presented by Ms Rashila Kayastha, Mr Suraj Shakya and Ms Erina Rajbhandari with direction from Dr Rajesh Tuladhar. The cultural programme was coordinated by Bipin Joshi, Sabin Rajbhandari and Binod Shrestha and the stage decorations, floor and seating arrangements were made by Mr Pabitra Man Shakya, Mr Bipin Joshi, Dr Rajesh Tuladhar, Mr Sabin Rajbhandari and Mr Binod Shrestha. Food and Drinks was organised by Mr Rameshwor Shrestha while the costumes, jewellery and make up for the Pancha Kanyas was arranged by Mrs Sabita Manandhar and Ms Menka Shrestha. The finances, tickets and raffle sales for the event were undertaken by Treasurer of PPGUK Mr Dhiraj Shrestha and Sub Treasurer Ms Pratima Joshi. Security at the event was provided by Mr Om Lama and Audio Visual by Mr Sanam Bairagi, while Mr Mahesh Shrestha was the official photographer. Mr Rupesh Silwal from Kantipur FM was the onsite reporter collating news and views from the event.
The overriding view of the participants was buoyant, full of zeal but with a tinge of nostalgia, as the Newa community had amalgamated with camaraderie to successfully bring to fruition the celebration of Nepal Sambat and Mha Puja in a home away from home. Along with the cohesive dynamics, we sense these types of programme will help to safeguard our culture, values and beliefs; ensuring this is passed on to our future generations for them to embrace.