Thursday, February 9, 2017

Nepalese Community Organizations in Oregon: A Short Glimpse

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
President, Newah American Buddhist Association

Although the Nepalese community in Oregon, USA is one of the smaller ethnic groups comparing to people from other countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the number of the Nepalese immigrants in the US state of Oregon is constantly on the rise.

It is no secret that tens of thousands of Nepalese have made the US their new home. People of Nepalese origin have been living in Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Ashland, Bend and some other  cities in Oregon.

The Nepalese people who have been living in Oregon are trying to integrate into the mainstream American society while also not losing their identities. That probably is the reason why some Nepalese community organizations have been established in Portland to unite the people of Nepalese origin in Oregon and to promote and preserve Nepalese arts, culture and traditions.

This is true that the number of Nepalese population in Oregon is very low comparing to the people coming from India, China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Korea etc. But with various community activities of different Nepalese community organizations, Nepalese people's comparatively low demographic presence is already felt stronger and more effective in Oregon.

As of now, there are three Nepalese organizations which are actively engaged in uniting the Nepalese people in Oregon: (1) Nepali Association of Oregon, NAO  (2) Nepa Chhen and (3) Non-residential Nepalese Association, Oregon Chapter.

(1) Nepali Association of Oregon (NAO) which was established in the fall of 2000 AD under the chairmanship of Raju Mali is the first and pioneering organization of the Nepalese community in Oregon.

NAO has an education support program for Nepali youth from the Oregon Nepali community as well as for rural communities of Nepal.

NAO was able to raise $ 63,314.00 for helping the eqrthquake victims in Nepal. Likewise, NAO has been celebrating Dashain and Bikram Sambat New Year programs every year.

(2) The establishment of Nepa Chhen in November 2012 AD under the chairmanship of Rajesh Maharjan in Portland with the objectives of creating a permanent forum for community gatherings and focusing on preserving Nepalese arts and culture is another landmark event in the chronicles of Nepalese diaspora in Oregon.

Nepa Chhen, which champions the cause of enhancing and enriching Nepalese culture, has been celebrating Nepal Sambat new year, Mha Puja, Dashain festival, Bikram Sambat new year, Gregorian Calendar new year, Lhosar etc.

(3) Non-residential Nepalese Association - Oregon Chapter was set up in Portland in March, 2015 AD under the chairmanship of Diwakar Maharjan.

Ever since its inception, the NRNA-Oregon Chapter had organized various programs like MRP workshop, Ethnic Nepali Fashion Show, International Women's Day celebration, Social Awareness and Benefit Workshop, Career in Science workshop etc.

Apart from the above mentioned three Nepalese community organizations, special mention must be made of Nritya Mandala Mahavihar, a Newah Buddhist temple in Portland launched by Prajwal Ratna Bajracharya and Helen Appell.

Likewise, mention also must be made of Nepali eateries like Kathmandu Cafe, Momo House, Himalayan Food Cart, Peacock Window etc where  different kinds of Nepali food are served for Portlanders.

Similarly,  Kathmandu to You, Himalayan Gifts,  Kathmandu Gift Shop and Potala House etc are Nepalese stores which have been trying to reflect the Nepalese arts and culture in Oregon.

*Also Please read: "Nepali Association of Oregon: Pioneering Organization of Nepalese Community in Oregon" and "Nepali Association of Oregon Organizes Conference of Nepalese in West Americas"

**Dr Shakya, a Portland based writer, is former assistant editor at the RSS, former associate editor at The Rising Nepal and former lecturer of journalism at the Peoples Campus. He is also advisor of Nepa Chhen, a Portland based non-profit and Education Director of NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter.

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