Saturday, May 23, 2020

जोखन रत्गैँया: व्यक्ति एक, व्यक्तित्व अनेक

कलाकार लवकान्त चौधरीले रिक्रियट गरेको जोखन रत्गैँयाको डायरी । अनुमतिमा प्रकाशित। 

वि.सं २०५८ साल जेठ २९ गते । कैलालीको लालबोझी गाविसको करमदेउ गाउँलाई शाही सेनाले एकाएक नियन्त्रणमा लियो। शाही सेनाले घेराबन्दी गरेपछि जोखन रत्गैयाँ अलमलमा परे । उनी साथीहरूसँग भन्ने गर्थे, म ज्यानको आहुति दिन्छु, तर दुश्मनको अगाडि झुक्दिनँ । उनको त्यही अठोटले शाही सेनाको घेराबन्दी तोड्ने प्रयासमा लागे । अनेकन जुक्ति निकाले उनले। तर बहुसंख्यक सेनाको अगाडि उनको कुनै जुक्तिले काम गरेन । उनले प्रयास पनि छाडेनन् । अन्ततः उनी घेरा तोडेर भागे । सेनाहरु फायरिङ खोल्दै लखेट्न थाले । जोखन र सेनाको दूरी करिब दुई सय मिटरको थियो । फिल्मी शैलीमा शाही सेनाले जोखनलाई लखेट्दै थिए । सेनाको अनगिन्ती गोलीले अन्ततः जोखनको घुँडा आरपार भयो । उनी केहीबेर त्यही ढले तर आत्मसमर्पण भने गरेनन् । उभिन नसक्ने भएपछि उनी अग्ला भग्रा (घाँस) भित्र घस्रिदै खोलासम्म पुगे । नजिकैको खोलामा हाम फाले, पौडिँदै परसम्म गए । उनलाई खोज्न हेलिकप्टर गस्ती थालियो । सबैतिरबाट घेरिएपछि उनको उपचार बेलैमा हुन सकेन, निरन्तर ब्लिडिङका कारण उनको देहान्त भयो । त्यो कालो दिन सम्झिँदा शरीरमा काँडा उम्रिनेगरेको बर्दियाका खुसी प्रसाद थारू बताउँछन् । शाही सेनाको अप्रेसनमा त्यो दिन कैलालीमा ६ जनाले शहादत प्राप्त गरेका थिए । त्यसमध्ये जोखन एक थिए ।

करमदेउ त्यस्तो गाउँ थियो, माओवादीहरू सेनाको ट्र्यापमा परिहाल्थे । जोखन यसअघि पनि त्यो गाउँबाट उम्किन सफल भएका थिए । तर पार्टीको जिम्मेवारी निभाउन त्यहाँ जानैपथ्र्यो । जानुअघि जोखनले साथीहरूलाई भनेका थिए, ‘यो गाउँमा होस पु¥याएर बस्नुपर्छ ।’ घटना भएको दिन बाँच्न सफल खुसी प्रसाद चौधरी आफूहरू अघिल्लो रातको २ बजे करमदेउ गाउँ पुगेको बताए । बिहान ८ बजे खाना खाइरहेका बेला सेनाले गाउँ नियन्त्रणमा लिएको थियो । जोखनका टिममा अन्य पाँच जना भने बाँच्न सफल भएका थिए । त्यतिबेला बौद्धिक तथा शक्तिशाली नेताको रुपमा उदाएका जोखनलाई टार्गेट गरेरै हत्या गरेको माओवादीभित्रकै नेताहरूले बताउने गर्छन् ।
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जोखन रत्गैँयाको जन्म वि.सं २०२५ सालमा कैलालीको हसुलियास्थित रानामुरा गाउँमा भएको थियो । आमा सुखलीदेवी चौधरी र बुबा धनबहादुर चौधरीको उनी जेठो सन्तान थिए । सामान्य परिवारमा जन्मिएका उनले आइएसम्मको अध्ययन गरेका थिए । आइएसम्मको अध्ययनले होला उनले त्यहाँ थारू समाज राम्रोसँग बुझेका थिए । दिनप्रति दिन हुने हरेक प्रकारका विभेदबारे उनी जानकार थिए । पछिल्लो समय पहाडबाट बसाई सरी आएका गैरथारूहरूले खाइपाइ आएको थारूहरूको खेतबारीमा आफ्नो वर्चस्व कायम गरेका थिए । जसका कारण थारूहरू आफ्नै खेतबारीमा कमैया, कमलरी बन्न बाध्य भएका थिए । यी सब कुराको चित्रण जोखनले राम्रोसँग विश्लेषण गर्न सक्थे । त्यसैले त उनले यस्ता विभेदहरूबारे चर्को आवाज उठाउँथे । आफ्नो गाउँ, टोल र छिमेकका थारूहरूलाई यस्ता विभेदविरुद्ध एक भएर लड्न प्रोत्साहन गर्थे । उनले थारू गाउँ गाउँ पुगेर विभेदविरुद्ध नाटक देखाउँथे, थारूहरूलाई प्रशिक्षण दिन्थे र साहित्य लेखनमार्फत् जागरण ल्याउँथे ।

पश्चिम तराईमा हुने आक्रमक बसाइसराइले थारूहरू झनै थिचोमिचोमा परेका थिए । राज्यबाट हुने विभेद त थियो नै, त्यसमाथि आफ्नै खेतबारीमा थारुहरु कमैया बस्नुपर्दा उनी मुर्छित पर्थे । जातीय, वर्गीय विभेद सधैंका लागि अन्त्य गर्न उनी माओवादी पार्टीले सुरु गरेको सशस्त्र जनयुद्धमा होमिए । त्यसअघि उनले अनेरास्ववियुमा बसेर विद्यार्थी राजनीतिसमेत गरे । माओवादी पार्टीमा गएर नेतृत्व लिइसकेपछि उनले धेरै अभियानहरु सफल पारेका थिए । उनका सहपाठी हरि ज्ञवाली अखण्ड सम्झन्छन्, ‘सुरुमा त लाग्थ्यो, हामी दुई जनाले के नै पो परिवर्तन गर्न सक्छौं, हाम्रो कुरा कसले सुन्छ र, तर गरेपछि हुनेरहेछ। हामीले हतियार सिजलगायतका ठूला अभियानहरु सफल परेका थियौं ।’

जोखनको बौद्धिकता र सफल नेतृत्वले पार्टीको केन्द्रीय तहमै चर्चा हुने गरेको थियो । पार्टीभित्र उनलाई बौद्धिक नेताको क्याटोगरीमा राखिएको थियो । तत्कालीन माओवादी नेता वर्षमान पुनले जोखन रत्गैयाँ क्षमतावान नेता भएको बताए । पार्टीले उनलाई बौद्धिक नेताको रुपमा लिनेगरेको पनि उनले बताए । कैलाली र बर्दियामा हुने हरेक कार्यक्रमको नेतृत्व पनि उहाँहरुले गरेको पुन सम्झन्छन् । ‘जोखनजीलाई भेटेको छु र वहाँबारे मैले धेरै सुनेको छु । उहाँ बौद्धिक, निडर एवं क्षमतावान नेता हुनुहुन्थ्यो । उहाँको शहादतपछि पार्टीले ठूलो क्षति व्यहोर्नुप¥यो,’ ऊर्जा, जलस्रोत तथा सिँचाइमन्त्री पुनले भने ।

जोखनले माओवादीमा आफ्नो राम्रो उपस्थिति जनाए । उनको उपस्थितिले केन्द्रीय नेताहरूमा तरंग ल्याइदियो । उनले थारू मोर्चालाई राम्रोसँग कमान्ड गरे । थारूमाथि हुने विभेदको अन्त्य गर्न धेरै थारूले उनको साथ दिए । उनकै पछि लागेर सशस्त्र जनयुद्धमा होमिए । उनले आफ्नो पोजिसन राम्रो बनाइरहेकै बेला दुश्मनले त्यहाँ पनि सुखसँग बस्न दिएनन् । उनकाविरुद्ध शाही सेनालाई सुराकी गर्न थाले । सेनाले उनलाई खोज्न नसकेपछि उनको परिवारलाई सताउन थाल्यो । सेनाले हदैसम्मको दमन उनको परिवारमाथि ग¥यो । सेनाको यातनाका कारण जोखनले वि.सं २०५७ सालमा बुबा धनबहादुर रत्गैयाँलाई गुमाए । बुबाको मुख हेर्नसमेत उनी आउन पाएनन् । साहित्य लेखनमा अब्बल मानिएका उनले आमाका नाममा चिठी लेखी भनेका थिए–

आमा तिमी रुनु तर आँशु नझार्नु । विरोधीले देखे हाँसोको पात्र बनाउनेछ । तिमी हाँसोको पात्र बन्नु हुँदैन । 

बुबाले ज्यान गुमाउँदा पनि उनले आमालाई अनुनयन गरेका शब्द हुन यी । उनी विरोधीसामु शिर निहुराउन जानेका थिएनन्, विरोधीसामु हार स्वीकार्न जानेका थिएनन् । उनी आफ्नो लक्ष्यमा सधैं अडिग रहेर अगाडि बढे । यता सेनाको यातना दिने क्रम भने रोकिएन । उनीहरूको अनुपस्थितिमा सेनाले घरका महिला सदस्यहरूलाई समेत यातना दिन सुरु गरिसकेको थियो । सेनाको टार्गेटमा परेका भाइ जगत रत्गैँया (प्रवेश) पनि लुकीछिपी बस्नुपर्ने अवस्था थियो। उनलाई विसं २०५९ सालमा सेनाले बर्दियाको झबहीमा हत्या ग¥यो । जेठी छोरी इन्दु थारू माओवादीकी छोरी भएकै कारण स्कुल जान सकिरहेका थिएनन्, उनलाई भर्ना नगर्न सेनाले निर्देशन दिएको थियो । कलिला दुई छोरा सुरज र निरजको अवस्था झनै दयनीय थियो ।

परिवारका सदस्यमाथि यतिका दमन भइरहँदा पनि जोखले क्रान्तिको बाटो छाडेनन् । तर सोच्दै नसोचेको कुरा उनले आफ्नै जीवनमा भोग्नुप¥यो । पार्टीभित्रको बलियो उपस्थिति र उनको क्षमतादेखि जल्ने उनका केही आफ्नै साथीहरूको ट्र्यापमा फसेँ।
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हसुलियाबाट सदरमुकाम धनगढी आएका जोखनले त्यही कर्मथलो बनाएका थिए । उनले मेडिकल शिक्षा प्राप्त गरेपछि धनगढीमै मेडिकल क्लिनिक चलाए । मेडिकलबाट उनले आफूलाई पुग्ने आम्दानी गर्थे । मेडिकल अलावा उनी पत्रकारिता र साहित्य लेखनमा धेरै रुची राख्थे । उनले युवाअवस्थामै थारु मुक्तिको विषयमा कथा, कविता लेख्थे । थारू समुदायमा व्यवसायिक पत्रकारिताको सुरुवात पनि उनैले गरेका थिए । उनले थारू मुक्ति नामक साप्ताहिक पत्रिका प्रकाशन गर्थे । माओवादीमा लाग्नुअघि नै उनले मुक्तिक डगर नामक वार्षिक पत्रिका प्रकाशन गर्थे । जुन ९ वर्षमा ७ अंक प्रकाशित भयो ।

उनले आफ्नो पहिलो कृति चोराइल मन प्रकाशित गरेका थिए । जुन थारू समुदायको पहिलो गजल संग्रह भएको साहित्यकार कृष्णराज सर्वहारी बताउँछन् । उनैले प्रगतिसिल साहित्यको अगुवाई समेत गरेका थिए । थारू समुदायभित्रका आवाजलाई साहित्यमार्फत् उजागर गर्नुपर्ने उनले सल्लाह दिन्थे ।

जोखनले दर्जनभन्दा बढी किताबको पाण्डुलिपी तयार पारेका थिए । जसमा भुत्वा– महाकाब्य, लाल गुलाब– खण्डकाव्य, अग्रासन– कथा संग्रह आदि छन् । यी किताबहरु क्रमशः प्रकाशन गर्ने भनेर जोखनले डायरीमा उल्लेख गरेका थिए । जुन उनको डायरीमा प्रष्टसँग लेखिएको छ । तर दुर्भाग्य डायरीबाहेक उनको परिवारसँग यी किताबका कुनै ड्राफ्ट छैनन् । जोखनले आफ्नो मृत्युसँगै यी सबकुराको राज सँगै लिएर गए । बर्दियाका विश्वबहादुर चौधरी शिशिरले जोखनजीको भुत्वा महाकाब्य त्यसबेला प्रकाशनको अन्तिम चरणमा रहेको बताए । किताबको आवरण पनि उनैले तयार पारिदिएका थिए । ‘बर्दिया आउँदा उहाँले भुत्वा महाकाब्य किताबको प्रकाशन गर्न मसँग सहयोग माग्नुभएको थियो । किताबबारे सुझाव पनि माग्नुभएको थियो । किताबको लागि मैले आवरणसमेत तयार पारेको थिएँ,’ शिशिरले भने । लाजुराम चौधरी अंकितका अनुसार भुत्वा महाकाव्यको प्रकाशनका लागि शहिद प्रवेश र आफू इन्डिया गएको सम्झिन्छन् ।

जोखन गोचाली परिवारका कैलाली अध्यक्ष पनि थिए । गोचाली परिवारमा आबद्ध भएर उनले थारु सांस्कृतिक कार्यक्रम गर्ने, मुक्तिका नाटकहरू लेखेर प्रहसन गर्थे । गोचाली परिवारमा बसेरै उनले थारू मुक्तिको लडाइँ सुरु गरेका थिएँ । किनकि यो आफैंमा एउटा संगठन थियो । यसमा आबद्ध थारुहरुलाई विभेदविरुद्ध बुलन्द आवाज सहित  एकीकृत हुन आव्हान गरिन्थ्यो । ऊबेला निस्किने क्रान्तिकारी पत्रिकामा उनी नियमित थारू मुक्तिका आवाज उठाउँथे ।
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आदर्शका स्रोत जोखन

जोखन रत्गैयाँ थारूहरूका आइडल थिए, प्रेरणाका स्रोत थिए । उनले देखाएका बाटामा आज अनगिन्ती थारूहरू हिँडिरहेका छन् । अहिले जतिपनि कम्युनिस्ट थारू नेताहरू छन्, सबैले जोखनको विचार र सिद्धान्तलाई आत्मसाथ गरेका छन् । लक्ष्मण थारू जसले जोखनकै छत्रछाँयामा राजनीति सिके, कृष्ण्कुमार चौधरी जसले जोखनको विचारबाट प्रभावित भएर माओवादीमा लागे, लाजुराम चौधरी, वीरमान चौधरी, गौरीशंकर चौधरी, सूर्य चौधरी, लक्ष्मी चौधरी जसले जोखनलाई आदर्श मानेर माओवादी जनयुद्धमा होम्मिए । त्यतिमात्र नभएर बर्दियाका खुसीप्रसाद चौधरी, शिवप्रसाद चौधरी, विश्वबहादुर चौधरी, मनकला चौधरीलगायत सयौं नेताहरू जोखनका विचारबाट प्रभावित थिए । जोखनले दिएका प्रशिक्षण, जोखनले जनतासँग घुलमिल हुन सिकाएको आइडिया उनीहरुले आजका दिनसम्म आत्मसाथ गरेका छन् । उनले साहित्यमा देखाएको बाटोलाई आत्मसाथ गरेका छन् । जातीय, वर्गीय विभेदबारे दिएको अभिव्यक्ति अनुसरण गरेका छन् । उनका सहकर्मी भगत बडुवाल, हरि ज्ञवाली सबैले भन्ने गर्छन्, जोखन बहुप्रतीभाशाली व्यक्ति हुन् । उनमा अध्ययन गर्ने अदभूत कला थियो । आदिवासीका सबालमा, थारुका सबालमा उनले धेरै अनुसन्धानहरू गरेका थिए । आज भलै जोखनको शरीर हामीमाझ छैन, तर उनले देखाएको बाटो, उनले प्रस्तुत गरेको विचार, सिद्धान्त र आइडियोलोजी जीवन्त छ र रहिरहनेछ ।

लेखक :मदन चौधरी, पहिलोपल्ट नागरिक दैनिक र मुक्तिक डगरमा प्रकाशित । मदन चौधरी र इन्दु थारूको अनुमतिमा पुन:प्रकाशित गरिएको। 

Jokhan Ratgainya: one person, many personalities

Jokhan Ratgainya's diary, recreated by artist Lavkant Chaudhary. Used with permission.

June 11, 2001, Kailali District, Lalbhoji Village Development Committee, Karamdeu Village


The Royal Nepali Army suddenly took control of the whole village. The army had surrounded the village and Jokhan was in danger. He had always told his friends that he would sacrifice his life but he would never bow down to the enemy. With this determination he tried to break the hold of the Royal Army. He tried many strategies but nothing worked out, they were clearly outnumbered. But he didn’t give up. In the end he managed to escape from the siege and ran. The military open fired and started chasing Jokhan, he was only ahead by 200 meters. The Royal Army was pursuing him—just like a scene in the movies. After innumerable rounds of firing, a bullet shot went through his knee. He fell for a few minutes but he refused to surrender. He couldn’t get up. So he decided to crawl through a thicket of tall grass and ended up next to a stream. He jumped into the stream and swam across it, gaining some distance. A helicopter was dispatched to search for him, he was surrounded. Jokhan did not receive immediate treatment, after continuous bleeding—he died. As Khusi Prasad Tharu from Bardiya recounts that ill-fated day, shivers run down his spine. Six people were martyred on that day at the hands of the Royal Nepali Army. Jokhan was one of them. 

Karamdeu was such a village where the Army could easily trap the Maoists. Jokhan had previously managed to escape from this very village. But he had to travel there to fulfill the duties of his Party. Prior to leaving, Jokhan had been warned by his friends, “tread carefully in this village.” Khusi Prasad Chaudhary managed to survive, he remembers that they had arrived at two, under cover of night, the day before the incident. While they were eating at eight in the morning, the Army took control of the village. The other five members of Jokhan’s team managed to survive. At that time Jokhan was regarded as an intellectual and powerful leader, Maoist leaders remark that he was targeted and killed. 


Jokhan Ratgaiya was born in 1968 in the village of Ranamuda, nearby Hasuliya in Kailali District. He was the eldest son of Sukhali Devi Chaudhary and Dhana Bahadur Chaudhary. His family was simple and he received a high school education. Maybe it was his education that helped him grasp Tharu society. He was aware of all the quotidian discriminations. The non-Tharus from the hills who had migrated to the Tarai still dominated and made a living off of Tharu lands. The Tharus were bound to work on their own lands as kamaiyas and kamalaris. Jokhan was able to finely articulate this scenario; that is why he would speak up against such discrimination. He inspired the Tharus of his village, his quarter, and his neighbors to unite and fight against bigotry. He would travel Tharu village after Tharu village to show anti-discrimination performances, to spread awareness, and to enlighten people through literature.

The aggressive resettlement of people into the Western Tarai had added to the Tharu’s yoke of oppression. There was already discrimination from the State, on top of that when Tharus had to become bonded laborers on their own land, they were crushed. To end caste and class based biases Jokhan decided to be a part of the People’s War started by the Maoist Party. Before that he was a student activist affiliated to the Pan Nepal National Independent Student Union. He was successful in many campaigns after taking leadership roles within the Party. His colleague Hari Gyawali (Akhanda) recollects, “At first we used to think what on earth could we change, just the two of us. Who would listen to us? But after you start something things do change. We were successful in many large campaigns such as weapon seizing.”

The central command of the Party had taken notice of Jokhan’s intellect and accomplished leadership, and had categorized him as an intellectual leader. Maoist leader Barsaman Pun remarks that Jokhan Ratgaiya had potential and he was noticed for his intelligence. Pun reminisces that all programs in Kailali and Bardiya were under their helm. Pun, who is the Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Minister, says, “I have met Jokhan-ji and I have heard a lot about him. He was a leader with intellect, fearlessness, and great potential. After his martyrdom the Party faced a great loss.”  

Jokhan left a mark on the Maoist Party. He brought out the vitality of central leaders. He commanded the Tharu Front with great skill. Many Tharus who wanted to end the discrimination they faced supported Jokhan. Many followed his footsteps towards the People’s Liberation. As he was getting comfortable in his position the enemy did not let him stay in peace. The Royal Nepali Army began pursuing him. The Army was unable to find him, so they decided to harass his family. They persecuted his family to the full extent. Jokhan’s father died in 2000 as a result of military torture. He could not even return to see his father’s face for the last time. Considered to be a skilled penman he wrote a letter to his mother:

Mother, cry, but do not shed a tear.
If the antagonists see you,
they will laugh.
You are not to be a subject of ridicule.

These were his words to his mother upon the death of his father. He was not going to bow his head in front of the enemy, he did not know how to accept defeat in front of the enemy. He was focused on his goal and he moved ahead with this determination. But the military’s persecution was incessant. In his absence, they had already started to torture the women of his household. His brother Jagat Ratgaiya (Pravesh) was in hiding after the military started targeting him. In 2002, Pravesh was murdered by the Royal Army in Jhabahi, Bardiya District. The military even instructed schools not to admit Jokhan’s daughter Indu, as she was “a daughter of a Maoist”. The condition of Jokhan’s two younger sons Suraj and Niraj was even more pitiable. 

Even though his family was tormented, Jokhan did not leave the path of revolution. But he was subjected to something that was unthinkable. He fell victim to a conspiracy of a few of his own friends within the Party who had grown envious of his strong presence and rising potential.


After coming to Dhangadhi from Hasuliya he made a living in the city. Upon receiving a medical education he opened a clinic and pharmacy in Dhangadhi, through which he made his earnings. Other than his medical engagements, he was drawn to journalism and literature. Ever since he was  a teenager he had written stories and poetry on the liberation of the Tharus. He had also started commercial journalism within the Tharu community with the weekly Tharu Mukti. Prior to joining the Maoists he had already begun publishing a yearly magazine, Muktik Dagar, which had seven editions in nine years. 

His first published work was Chorayil Man (Stolen Heart).  Which according to Krishnaraj Sarbahari is the first ghazal of the Tharu community. Jokhan was at the front of a progressive literary movement. He was always of the opinion that the voice of the Tharu community could be highlighted vis-à-vis literature. 

Jokhan had prepared manuscripts for more than a dozen publications, which included the epic Bhutva Mahakavya, the poem Lal Gulab, and the short story collection Agrasan. In his diary Jokhan clearly indicates that he wanted to publish these works in this order. Unfortunately, other than his diary Jokhan’s family does not have any of the other manuscripts. In his death, Jokhan took all these secrets with him. Bishwa Bahadur Chaudhary (Shishir) from Bardiya says that Bhutva Mahakavya was in its last stage of edits prior to publication. In Shishir’s words, “Jokhan had requested my help for the publication of Bhutva Mahakavya when he had come to Bardiya. I had even designed the cover for the book.” According to Lajuram Chaudhary (Ankit), he and Jokhan’s brother Pravesh had gone to India for the publication of the book.   

Jokhan was also the President of the Gochali Pariwar (Family of Friends) in Kailali. When he was affiliated with the Gochali Pariwar he organized many Tharu cultural programmes, and presented comedies and plays on the liberation of the Tharus. He had started his fight for Tharu liberation from the Gochali Pariwar. This was an organization in its own sense. The Tharus involved in it were called upon to be a unified and robust voice against oppression. In the revolutionary publications of his days, Jokhan used to regularly voice the cause of Tharu liberation.  


An ideal source of inspiration

Jokhan Ratgaiya was an ideal leader for Tharus and a source of inspiration. There are numerous Tharus who at present are following the path he paved. All the communist Tharu politicians of date have taken Jokhan Ratgaiya’s principles to heart. Laxman Tharu who under his mentorship learnt politics; Krishna Kumar Chaudhary who was influenced by Jokhan to join the Maoists; Lajuram Chaudhary, Birman Chaudhary, Gaurishankar Chaudhary, Surya Chaudhary, Laxmi Chaudhary who all joined the People’s War regarding Jokhan as their ideal. Additionally Jokhan’s thoughts have made an impression upon hundreds of leaders the likes of Khusi Prasad Chaudhary, Shiva Prasad Chaudhary, Vishwa Bahadur Chaudhary, and Mankala Chaudhary all from Bardiya District. The guidance provided by Jokhan and his grassroots level engagement have remained important for all of them. Even his pathbreaking work in literature remains an inspiration, in addition to his expressions against caste and class based discrimination. His colleague Bhagat Baduwal and Hari Gyawali say that Jokhan was a multitalented individual. He had an extraordinary skill for scholarship; he had conducted many researches on themes related to indigeneity and Tharu identity. While Jokhan may not be physically with us today, his path, thoughts, principles and ideologies are alive and will remain so. 

Author: Madan Chaudhary, translator: Priyankar Bahadur Chand. Republished with permission from Priyankar Bahadur Chand and Indu Tharu.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Harchali – one of the first quarterly literary magazines in Tharu language



Harchali - one of the first quarterly literary magazines in Tharu language

An interview with Sagar Kusmi, Editor, Harchali, one of the first quarterly literary magazines in
Tharu language.

Please tell our readers about Harchali quarterly, the literary magazine you’ve been publishing. 
Harchali literary quarterly is purely dedicated to literature. We started publishing it from 2072 Baishakh after formally registering with the District Administration Office in Kailali on 2071 Falgun 28 (Registration no. 169). I (Sagar Kusmi) am the Chief Editor and Publisher of the magazine.  This is the only magazine in Tharu language being published regularly from Dhangadhi, Kailali. This magazine reaches out to audiences in Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardia, Banke, Dang, Surkhet, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Kathmandu and Uttar Pradhesh in India.

Sagar Kusmi, Editor, Harchali
Please tell us about yourself.
My father is a farmer and I come from Dakshin Terhi Village of Kailari Rural Municipality, Ward no. 8. Currently, I have been living in Dhangadhi and dabbling in literary journalism. Along with journalism, I write Tharu folktales and folklores. Two of my collections of ghazals – hastakshar and futal pokri, and a collection of muktak (lyrical poems), have been published. I am working towards publishing collections of folktales, folklores, Haiku, ghazals, and investigative essays. Especially, I like to write about Tharu language, literature and culture.

Is there any reason behind naming the magazine ‘Harchali’?     
I am proud to be a Tharu. Thousands of Tharu words have been forgotten and are in the process of being forgotten. That’s why I chose this name from one of the Tharu words that denotes what one does during their leisure. So that people use their free time and we are able to conserve the Tharu language, literature and culture, and document the articles written in Tharu language.

What inspired you to publish this quarterly magazine?
I was interested in literature since my childhood. I used to write poems. I had the habit of reading magazines of all kind. While I was in school, they published a wall magazine. I used to send my poems for the magazine. In my village while I was a club president, I used to publish a wall magazine called ‘Fulariya’. Later, a magazine called ‘Nisrau Saptahik’ started being published from Dhangadhi. My poems, ghazals, muktak used to be published in that magazine as well. Following this, Hamar Pahura semi-weekly (later daily) used to publish my ghazals, muktak and articles. I gained a lot of experience working for Hamar Pahura. After working as Kailali representative of Lawa Daggar quarterly, I set out on my own to publish Harchali literary quarterly magazine.

What types of articles are published in Harchali and how can one send articles to it?
As this is a literary magazine, we publish all sorts of literary creations like articles, poems, ghazals, muktak, stories, memoirs, short stories, novels, etc. Articles that convey messages, raise awareness and investigative articles are given priority. Articles containing hate speech, accusation and written solely for entertainment and about love are not published. Articles received via our email ID harchali3@gmail.com are published only after reviewing.

What are your plans to reach more audience in the coming days?
We are trying our best to improve the quality and reach more audience. We look forward to suggestions, inputs and insights from our readers to improve the publication. We are also planning to reach our audiences in other cities and villages. We are working to make it monthly. Also we’re in the process of adding more columns and publishing the inside pages in multi-colour. Rest depends on readers and supporters.

Finally, would you like to say anything to our readers?
This is not my magazine. A magazine is a common learning ground for all. Please support us. Give us feedback and suggestions. Don’t stay idle. Write something and send them to us.

Note: The title has been changed from earlier 'Harchali – the first quarterly literary magazine in Tharu language'. 'Aainkh' is the first quarterly literary magazine in Tharu language.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

थारू भाषाको प्रथम साहित्यिक त्रैमासिक पत्रिकामध्ये एक "हरचाली"


थारू भाषाको प्रथम साहित्यिक त्रैमासिक पत्रिका मध्ये एक "हरचाली"का सम्पादक सागर कुस्मीसँगको अन्तर्वार्ता। 

तपाईंले प्रकाशन गर्ने हरचाली त्रैमासिकबारे केही भनिदिनुस् । 
हरचाली साहित्यिक त्रैमासिक थारू भाषाको विशुद्ध साहित्यिक पत्रिका हो । जिल्ला प्रशासन कार्यालय कैलालीमा २०७१ फागुन २८ गते विधिवत् रूपमा दर्ता (दर्ता नम्बर १६९) भई २०७२ वैशाखदेखि प्रकाशन शुरु गरिएको हो । यसको प्रकाशक तथा प्रधान सम्पादक म आफै (सागर कुस्मी) छु । यो पत्रिका कैलाली जिल्लाको धनगढीबाट हालसम्म एकमात्र नियमित प्रकाशन हुँदै आएको थारू भाषाको पत्रिका हो । यो पत्रिका कैलाली, कंचनपुर, बर्दिया, बाँके, दांग, सुर्खेत, कपिलवस्तु, रिपन्देही, चितवन, नवलपरासी, काठमाडांै, र भारतको उत्तर प्रदेशसम्म पुग्छ ।

सम्पादक सागर कुस्मी
तपाईंको बारे पनि केही भनिदिनुस् न ।
म एउटा किसानको छोरा हुँ । म कैलारी गाउँपालिका वडा नम्बर ८ दक्षिण टेंर्ही गाउँको बासिन्दा हुँ । साहित्यिक पत्रकारिता गर्ने क्रममा हाल म अहिले धनगढीमा बस्छु । पत्रकारितासँगै म थारू लोककथा, थारू लोकगीतमा बढी कलम चलाउँछु । मेरा दुई वटा हस्ताक्षर र फुटल पोक्री गजल संग्रह र एउटा मुक्तक संग्रह प्रकाशित छन् । लोककथा संग्रह, लोकगीत संग्रह, हाइकु संग्रह, गजल संग्रह र खोज तथा अनुसन्धानमुलक निबन्ध संग्रह प्रकाशनको तयारीमा रहेको छ । म धेरैजसो थारू भाषा साहित्य र संस्कृतिमा कलम चलाउन रुचाउछुँ ।

यसको नाम हरचाली राख्नुको कारण ?
मलाई  थारूको सन्तान भएकोमा गर्व लाग्छ । थारू सामुदायमा अझै पनि हजारौं शब्द लोप भैसकेका छन् र हुँदै छन् । त्यसैले एउटा शब्द छानेर यो नाम जुराएको हुँ । खाली समयलाई सदुपयोग होस् र थारू भाषा साहित्य, संस्कृतिको संरक्षण सम्वद्र्धन होस्, थारू भाषाको लेख रचना दस्तावेजिकरण होस् भनी यो नाम जुराएका हौं ।

यो त्रैमासिक निकाल्ने प्रेरणा कहाँ र कसरी पाउँनु भयो ?
मेरो बचपनदेखि नै साहित्यमा रुचि थियो । म सानैदेखि कविता लेख्थें । जस्तो सुकै पत्रिका पनि खोजी खोजी पढ्ने बानी थियो मेरो । स्कुलमा म पढ्दा खेरी भित्ते पत्रिका निस्किन्थ्यो । त्यसमा म पनि कविता पठाउँथे । गाउँमा क्लबको अध्यक्ष हुँदा पनि "फुलरिया" भन्ने भित्ते पत्रिका निकाल्थें । त्यसपछि धनगढीबाट "निसराउ साप्ताहिक" भन्ने पत्रिका निस्किन्थ्यो । त्यसमा पनि मेरा कविता, गजल, मुक्तक छापिन्थे । यसपछि "हमार पहुरा" अर्ध साप्ताहिक (पछि दैनिक) पत्रिकामा मेरा गजल, मुक्तक, लेख रचना छापिन्थें । हमार पहुरा पत्रिकामा काम गरेर पनि धेरै अनुभव बटुलेँ । दाङ डेउखुरी बाट निस्किने "लावा डग्गर" त्रैमासिक मा कैलाली प्रतिनिधि भएर काम गरिसकेपछि आफैमा एउटा प्रकाशक भएर पत्रिका निकाल्ने हिम्मत र आँट आयो । यसरी म अहिले हरचाली साहित्यिक त्रैमासिक पत्रिका कैलालीबाट नियमित निकाल्न सफल भएँ ।

यसमा कस्ता कस्ता रचना प्रकाशन गरिन्छ र आफ्ना रचना प्रकाशन गराउन कहाँ कसरी पठाउँनुपर्छ ? 
यो एउटा साहित्यिक पत्रिका भएकोले यसमा साहित्यिक लेख रचना, कविता, गजल, मुक्तक, कथा, संस्मरण, लघुकथा, उपन्यास प्राय सबै विधाका रचना छापिन्छन् । सन्देशमुलक, जनचेतनामुलक, खोज तथा अनुसन्धानमुलक रचनालाई बढी प्राथमिकता दिईन्छ । कसैलाई गाली गलौज, आरोप, र नितान्त मनोरञ्जनात्मक माया प्रेम सम्बन्धि रचना छापिदैन । पत्रिकाको इमेल आइडी  harchali3@gmail.com मा आएका रचनालाई छनौट गरेर मात्र छापिन्छ ।

आगामी दिनमा यसलाई कसरी अगाडि बढाउने र अझ बढी पाठकमाझ पुर्याउन के के गर्ने सोच राख्नु भएको छ ?
हामीले आफ्नो तर्फबाट सक्ने जति गरेकै छौं । यो पत्रिकालाई अझ स्तरीय बनाउन पाठकहरूको सल्लाह सुझाव, प्रतिक्रियाको आशामा बसेका छौं । आगामी दिन शहरदेखि गाउँसम्म पुर्याउने योजनामा छौं । त्रैमासिकबाट मासिक बनाउन रात दिन खटिरहेका छौं । थप स्तम्भ राखी, भित्री पृष्ठ मल्टी कलरमा प्रकाशन गर्ने क्रममा छौं । बाँकी जिम्मा पाठक र सहयोगीको हुनेछ ।

अन्त्यमा हाम्रा पाठकलाई केही सन्देश दिन चाहनुहुन्छ ?
यो मेरो मात्र पत्रिका होइन । पत्रिका भनेको सबैको साझा विद्यालय हो ।  यसलाई सबैले माया, ममता, सहयोग गर्नुस् । चित्त नबुझेको ठाउँमा सल्लाह सुझाव दिनुस् । खाली नबस्नुस् । केहि न केहि अवश्य लेख्नुस् र हामीलाई पठाउनुस् । सबैलाई हार्दिक शुभकामना।

नोट: यस अन्तर्वार्ताको शीर्षक "हरचाली -- थारू भाषाको पहिलो साहित्यिक त्रैमासिक पत्रिका" परिवर्तन गरिएको छ। थारू भाषाको पहिलो साहित्यिक त्रैमासिक पत्रिका "आँइख" हो।

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The art of weaving beautiful baskets from sikki and kans grass

Parbati Chaudhary shows her creations.

Last September I met with two inspiring women – Parbati Chaudhary and Naina Chaudhary. Parbati, from Padariya Village, Saptari, lost her husband but didn't lose her hope. She now leads 100 women weaving baskets, mats, bags and other daily use items from sikki, elephant grass, silver grass, wallichia leaves, pater (a kind of reed growing in wetlands), paper reeds and corn leaves collected from wetlands, forests and fields. She sells the handcrafted items in the domestic market and has also exported them as far as the US with the support of WEAN Multipurpose Cooperative Ltd.

Some of Parbati's creations.

"The women weave handicrafts in their free time which otherwise would be spent gossiping or checking Facebook posts," said Parbati. "Now they're financially independent."

Some of Parbati's creations 

A basket made from sikki grass with beautiful floral designs, called dhakki in Nepali and daliya in the local language fetches around 120-130 USD for Parbati. But she says the pattern is very difficult for the women weavers and only some Tharu women with a high level of patience agree to weave the dhakki with intricate designs.

Naina Chaudhary weaving baskets from wool

Naina Chaudhary, from Haripur Village in Saptari, due to unavailability of sikki during all seasons, weaves the same dhakki from wool. She sells them at the local market and each one brings her about Rs. 500. “I learnt the tricks of the trade from Parbati,” she said. “However, I decided to start a business of my own.”

Some of Naina's creations

Naina makes beautiful silver grass handicrafts that fetch better prices but there's not much demand for the fancy items she can produce at local markets. Women like her need a helping hand to get these products to national and international markets.

Sikki and elephant grass used for making baskets

Not only Parbati and Naina, but many Tharu and Maithil women from the southern plains of Nepal have been weaving baskets of all shapes and sizes from the kans grass since ages and the art has been passed from one generation to another. The mothers and grandmothers have been teaching the young ones to weave baskets out of kans, considered useless, and sikki, regarded as pure.

Kharhi, the base material for weaving baskets

Let’s have a look at how they weave these beautiful baskets. The women collect the kans stems just before they bear flower (they call it gabaha in the Tharu language). Then they take out the flowery filaments and leave the stems to dry. Since the stem then becomes hollow, it can be wound into any shape and size.

A basket without its base - it is added later.

The upper and lower parts of the stem are trimmed. They can be used as the base material to wound the kans stem around. They also collect the kans grass from much earlier than their flowering stage. The stalks are usually hard then and can be used as the base material for the baskets. People also use fistfuls of kans grass from this stage of growth as a broom.

Takuwa, the needle like equipment to weave baskets

The gabaha is soaked in water so that it becomes flexible. A takuwa, needle-like equipment with a rounded end to hold on while weaving a basket, is needed, besides the grass of course, to weave the baskets. Taking a fistful of the kans grass, the gabaha is wound around it. Then it is swirled to give a round shape binding the framework with the gabaha. With the help of the takuwa, holes are made in the structure and gabaha is inserted in those holes binding the kans till it takes the shape a conical basket without a base, which is added later.

Dhakki made from sikki are in high demand.

The beautiful baskets called pauti and daliya in the local language of the Terai are woven similarly. First, sikki stems are collected and torn apart into two equal splinters. Then they are left to dry. Once dried, they are coloured.

Creativity has no bounds.

The coloured sikki splinters are soaked in water and as in the case of kans grass baskets, with the help of a takuwa the colourful sikki splinters are wound around kans grass. They create beautiful colourful patterns on the basket by further weaving sikki splinters on the basket – that requires some real skills!

Republished from ECS.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Pan fried pumpkin blossoms and bottle gourd skin fritters

Pumpkin blossoms

Most people love pumpkins whether green or orange. However, have you ever tried eating pumpkin blossoms, Nepali-style? It’s a delicacy in the southern plains of Nepal and they taste finger-licking good! Called kadima ke phula ke tikiya in eastern Nepal, it’s also a famous dish in the eastern Indian state Odisha, where they call it kakharu fula bhaja.

Here’s how you can prepare pan-fried pumpkin blossoms at home:

Pumpkin flowers after removing the pistils

Collect pumpkin flowers and remove the pistils. Make sure the petals are intact and dust any ants, aphids and beetles from them. Wash the petals with cold water and let them drain.

Rice flour batter ingredients

Prepare a batter of rice flour, turmeric powder, chilli powder and add other spices and salt to taste. If you want the fritters to be crispy, use coarse rice flour.

Covering the flowers with rice flour batter

Dip the petals in the batter while you heat mustard oil in a pan.

Frying the flowers in mustard oil

Fry the blossoms and turn over as the they turn yellowish brown. Make sure the flower inside the batter gets cooked well. Once you drain the oil from the fritter, it’s ready to eat. It tastes best when served with puffed rice.

A good thing about rural lifestyles is that they try to minimise wastage and practise sustainability. Called lauka ke chhala ke tikiya, fritters made from bottle gourd skin are another delicacy that is rarely found in other areas.

Here’s how to make these tasty fritters for yourself:

Bottle gourd

Wash the bottle gourd. Cut it into two halves. Rest the flat part on a plate and with the help of a knife, peeler or grater scrape the skin off the bottle gourd. Make sure you only remove the green skin and that it is shredded into fine pieces.

Scraping the skin of bottle gourd

Make a batter of rice flour, turmeric powder, chilli powder, spices and salt and as with the pan-fried pumpkin blossoms, if you want to make the fritters crispy, use coarse rice flour.

Finely grated bottle gourd skin

Put the bottle gourd skin into the batter and shape into flat round fritters.

Ready-to-eat bottle gourd skin fritters

Heat mustard oil in a pan and fry the fritters on both sides. Again, drain to remove excess oil and they’re ready to eat. Like the pan fried pumpkin blossoms, these fritters taste best with either puffed or beaten rice.

Republished from ECS.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Nepalis as profiled by the book ‘The People of India’

The New York Public Library Digital Collections has released The People of India in the public domain. You can now view, download and use the images from the rare book.

Cover of the book 'People of India'. Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Edited by J. Forbes Watson and John William Kaye, the book comprises three volumes and has a collection of photographic illustrations with descriptive letterpress. Published in the year 1868 by the India Museum, the book gives you a rare view of the races and tribes of that time.

Profiled in page 117 of the third volume of the book, here’s an image of a Tharu couple from Shahjahanpur, now in Uttar Pradesh of India. The writer duo describe the couple as ‘Tharoos. (Low Caste Hindoos: Probably Aboriginal.) Shahjehanpore.’

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Further, you can see images of people from Nepal (written ‘Nipal’) and the neighbouring Indian states.

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Image from the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Note: All the above images have been arranged in alphabetical order.