Why We Should Celebrate Nepal Day in New Jersey?

By: Pragya Shrestha, Youth Leadership member.

It is essential to keep in mind the roots from which Nepalese have grown in order to ensure that subsequent generations can enjoy and continue the same beautiful lifestyle. It’s easy for minorities like Nepalese people to forget their primary ancestral cultures and homeland when they live in the United States, a country full of unique people from different backgrounds. Therefore, it is crucial to gather to carry on cultural and traditional events. These events assist us in separating our physical differences from one another and reuniting us as a result of our fundamental values. An event like Nepal Day in Edison, New Jersey not only strengthens the Nepalese community but will also help the town become known for respecting and supporting the development of other ethnic groups living in the United States.

On this day, people from a variety of ethnic groups—the Chetri, the Newar, the Gurung, the Brahman, the Tamang, the Rai, the Tharu, the Limbu, the Magar, and the Sherpa, and many more—would display themselves in their traditional form. This could mean adhering to the customs that have always been followed, such as the Newars’ tapalan and suruwa (long shirt and trousers) for men and the haku parsi (black saree with red and white borders) for women—or bringing their traditional dishes, such as momo, also known as dumplings. While these conventional items may only be an object to some, the Nepalese community places a high value on them. For instance, Nepalese people view momo not only as a dish but also as a meal that brings families together; Everybody works together and contributes meat mixer, dough maker, meat applicator, and folder. Without the dough maker, the momo would not be made, implying that the family would not be complete without one member, thereby demonstrating the deeper significance of seemingly innocuous things. Despite the fact that everyone seems to be concentrating on making the momo, the laughter and conversations heard throughout the session demonstrate this concept of how a small act can have a larger effect. Because of this, the Nepalese value their customs and cultures highly because they represent their core values. New bonds are formed, and fundamental values are reinforced when Nepalese people gather to celebrate their lives. Similarly, Nepal Day is not just a typical day; rather, it is a day when people celebrate their heritage and identity by participating in a variety of cultural and traditional activities and showcasing their proud heritage to New Jersey’s melting pot.

Name Census, a site with U.S. demographic information from governmental sources, states the Nepalese community in the United States has grown rapidly. The data shows the growth of the community from the year 2015 to 2020: 59,467 individuals. By 2025, it is anticipated that there will be 222,460 Nepalese living in the country. With this knowledge of the rapid growth of Nepalese in the United States, the significance of creating a close-knit community becomes even more apparent. It is crucial that we immediately introduce these newcomers to the established strong Nepalese community as they join in order to make them feel more at home. Even though this society is open to new ideas, some people still have their own opinions. As a result, it is simple to be influenced by this behavior and forget your motherland. For this reason, by celebrating Nepal Day with those with whom they share similarities, these people will be motivated to continue their ancestral cultures and traditions as they will realize that they are not the only ones here with a unique set of backgrounds and that there are people like them. Getting together to share a common interest is not only a way to pass it on to future generations or get others to join in, but it also gives you a sense of who you are. 

We, the Nepalese community, would like to submit a request expressing our desire to welcome newcomers and be persistent in keeping the interests of our meaningful historical heritage alive as well as promoting our proud heritage in the State of New Jersey and beyond.

Nepalese community members’ statement on why we should celebrate Nepal day in New Jersey? 

Roshan Karmacharya – President (Friends of Nepal NJ)

“No matter where we live or travel, our identity travels along with us. It is very important for oneself to carry and to be proud of who they are and where their roots are from whether it be their gender, race, or culture. That’s what one will be comfortable in and live happily.  

Most of our Nepalese community people are the first generation living in the USA and struggling to preserve or transfer such identity to the next generation by different means and in different smaller groups. This brings low confidence in the community as no one knows how big and vibrant the Nepalese community is and can be. 

The Nepal Day parade project will be a stepping stone in that context. This project will encourage and promote different Nepalese organizations to spread this word so that all Nepalese, American Nepalese, and Friends of Nepal can come together and celebrate this day. I am so excited by this project initiation and thinking how vibrant and colorful will it be when all castes and cultures from the Nepalese community come together to show their costume, food, music, and their culture.”

Menuka Udas and Manish Karna 

“In our personal opinion, there are two ways Nepal Day can be remembered. First, Nepal is a multicultural country. People from different geographic regions within Nepal make it a perfect garden. Similarly, the US is also a diverse nation. People from different parts of the world live here in harmony. As we co-exist with each other, sometimes we forget who we are and our roots. An event like Nepal Day in NJ will bring all Nepalese to one place. It will give us an opportunity to appreciate the Nepalese culture that we have been preserving here in the US while also showcasing it to people from other countries. It will be an event to inform/learn about our co-existence as well as acknowledgment of the diversity and inclusion in the US culture/society.

Second, Nepalese people living in the US are from different geographical regions of Nepal. Most of them don’t know about each other even though our roots are the same. Events like Nepal Day will help connect us and help us learn the different dynamics of our Nepal culture. Professional Nepalese can network and help other fellow Nepalese or become a resource to each other. Each of us can get inspired by people who have been making a difference in the community. By honoring them, we can acknowledge their impact on the US Nepali community and also back home in Nepal. For these two reasons, we must do an event to honor and dedicate to our roots.

Amrit Manjari Shrestha

“When I moved to the United States in 2011, I had only two wishes: the development of my children’s futures and the acceptance as immigrants. As a mother of two children, my immediate concern is for their well-being, happiness, and the overall outcomes of their future. As a result, I’ve done things and will continue to do so in the hope that they’ll move up the ladder. However, I encountered difficulties as I attempted to fulfill my two wishes. The physical first: my accent. As I lived in Nepal for more than forty years and spoke Nepali as my first language, it was hard for me to truly express myself without getting looked at. Then came my knowledge of certain things. I found it odd that I was expected to know these various western world terms right away: what each holiday and custom meant, and what slang meant when I was just starting to learn about them. However, I accepted it and respected them. But it seemed as though some did not care about my culture or point of view. As a result, I struggled to fully express myself and my culture not because I was ashamed but due to the fear of being judged unfairly for displaying this image. I was worried that my family would suffer. But then I met Tulsi Dai and several other Nepalese folks that welcomed me into a warm community. I was able to truly accept who I was because of the Nepali community, where I felt at ease and saw that other people were in situations that were similar to mine. I brought my culture outside of this community and displayed it to my coworkers, friends, and family members through the work of different Nepalese food, holidays like Dashain, and outfits. There is more to the story, and it has significantly impacted my future choices as well as my desire to teach my children and others about Nepali culture. Nepal Day in New Jersey needs to be celebrated so that immigrants like us can easily accept their culture, be proud of it, and fully express themselves regardless of what people think of them. Nepalese culture and customs are unique and beautiful, and our people are one of a kind. Because it is made up of so many historical events and takes us back to our roots, we need to work together to preserve our culture and traditions. These things are very important for Nepalese communities as they will contribute to future generations. People coming together to celebrate this day will influence the growth and sense of pride towards Nepalese culture.”

Published by trm7510

The Asha Project – works in collaboration with local and international partner organizations as well as individuals and governments, to provide HOPE and OPPORTUNITIES for the people of Nepal. We thrive at the intersection of Passion, purpose and Promise.

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