A very successful Second World Newah Organization (WNO) Convention was held at the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in the State of Maryland, USA, from March 25 to March 27, 2016. More than 500 interested individuals participated in the Convention, of whom approximately 325 registered for the full convention period. In addition to the USA, there were attendees from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Kazakhstan, Nepal, The Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom, thereby representing the wide range of Newah people under one umbrella and uniting Newars from across the globe in order to preserve and promote our language, culture, and identity. Major highlights of the Convention follow.
Day One—Friday, March 25, 2016
The first day of the Convention included registration, a traditional Newah goods and promotional exhibition, socializing, and an informal banquet. A computerized system was used to facilitate the registration process, coordinated by Mr. Swoyambhu Dhar Tuladhar (Treasurer, WNO), Mr. Manohar Shrestha (General Secretary, NPPA), Mr. Alan Maharjan (Treasurer, NPPA), and Mr. Rajesh Lal Shrestha (Treasurer, NOA). Booths in the convention lobby were beautifully decorated with Newah goods by vendors from Canada, Nepal, and the USA. During the banquet, WNO President Dr. Bal Gopal Shrestha welcomed and thanked all participants on behalf of WNO. Likewise, WNO Vice President and Convention Chair Mr. Daya R. Shakya and Co-Chair Mr. Season Shrestha welcomed and thanked the dinner guests, after which general introductions were made, with each person introducing himself or herself to the group.
Day Two—Saturday, March 26, 2016
In addition to registration and exhibits, the Convention’s second day featured inaugural ceremonies, seminars, a formal banquet, and a Newah cultural program. The inauguration began with a Dhimay and Bhusyah musical procession and Ganesh, Kumari, and Lakhe dances. Guests were welcomed by ladies in traditional Newah garb and Pancha Kanya greeted the procession at the main gate. Newar Buddhist priest Mr. Prajwol Vajracharya and Hindu priest Mr. Basav Rajopadhyay chanted blessing mantras. Attendees proceeded to the convention hall, where the stage was beautifully decorated with a scene representing Nepal’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, created by artists Mr. Baikuntha Man Shrestha and Mr. Bikrant Man Shrestha. Master Jwoyal Ranjit, a 15-year-old Newah boy from Gaithersburg, Maryland, welcomed the group in Nepal bhasa and assured the gathering that his generation will continue WNO with enthusiasm into the future. Mr. Season Shrestha welcomed and thanked all participants on behalf of the Local Coordination Committee. Light and sound support for the program was coordinated by Mr. Dinesh Gurung.
WNO Vice President and Convention Chair Mr. Daya R. Shakya moderated the inaugural session with Ms. Bimina Ranjit. In Newah tradition, the Convention was formally inaugurated by the lighting of traditional oil lamps, Twadewa and Sukunda, by Mrs. Bijaya Laxmi Shrestha as the senior Newah present and by Chief Guests Mr. Malla K. Sundar and the Honorable Nepalese Ambassador to the USA Dr. Arjun Kumar Karki. The Chief Guests also symbolically raised the official WNO Second Convention banner. Next, Presidents of Nepa Pasa Pucha Amerikaye (NPPA) and Newah Organization of America (NOA), Mrs. Saroj Prajapati and Mr. Ram Lal Shrestha, offered Hyaun Sinhah (red blessing marks) and Hyaun Kokha (red cotton garlands) to the special guests on stage. Mrs. Beena Baidya and Mrs. Meena Pradhan then offered Hyaun Sinhah to other attendees.
During the inauguration, these respected individuals spoke as follows.
- Dr.Bal Gopal Shrestha, President of WNO and Chair of the inaugural session, urged Newars living abroad to support the ongoing Newah movement in Nepal until Newah people achieve equal rights to their language and culture. He said WNO is not working for or against any political party but is echoing the voice of the Newah people for their rights. He made it clear that to voice and struggle against the suppression of language, culture, and identity cannot be interpreted as politics. He said the Newah people’s demand for equal treatment of their language and culture has been suppressed from the time of the Rana regime until today, even after Nepal became a republic. He further said that the new Constitution of Nepal must be amended to the satisfaction of each and every community of Nepal.
- Mr. Puskar Bhakta Mathema, President of the WNO–Nepal Chapter and Chief Editor of Gorkhapatra, said that because of continuous suppression from the state, Newah people are forced into displacement from their land of origin. Despite their rich traditions, culture, and heritage, Newars have lost their past glory and are struggling for their identity.
Mr. Raja Ram Shrestha, spokesperson and Joint General Secretary of the National Democratic Party–Nepal (RPP), said that much talk is going on in Nepal about inclusive democracy and proportional representation, but in practice very little has been done, and in particular the Newars have been excluded from decision-making bodies and government. He deplored the shame that the current cabinet of Nepal includes not a single minister from the Newar community. He said that it is a responsibility of the government to let children be educated in their mother tongue. He stated that his party would play the necessary role to reintroduce Nepal Bhasa in all schools where Newar people are densely populated.
Dr. Jyoti Tuladhar, a prominent Newah intellectual and former UN/ILO gender expert, urged all Newahs around the globe to unite with a collective voice. Dr. Tuladhar defined Newah identity as a composite of language, culture, and tradition, and asserted that Newah identity cannot be preserved without promoting Newah language. She emphasized that political autonomy and space for a self-ruled state for Newah people within Nepal is crucial so that they can act independently for the promotion of their language, culture, and identity.
- Mr. Malla K. Sundar, Chief Guest of the Convention and prominent Newah leader and human rights activist, explained how each and every community desires a separate identity, no matter where it is and what its members do. He said regardless of whether we are Newahs living inside Nepal or Newahs living elsewhere in the world, we have our distinct identity and pride in that identity. He asserted that the aspiration for identity has pulled the Newah people together to act in the interest of preserving and promoting language, culture, and identity. In Nepal, Newars are not looking for uniformity in diversity but seeking unity in diversity. He said that Nepal’s leaders need to understand that their current policy of homogenisation of diversified populations is wrong and urged them to respect the multinational, multilingual, multicultural, and multireligious reality of the country. He insisted that government leaders must ensure equal rights to all the languages, cultures, and religions of various Nepalese nationalities. Recalling the origins of WNO’s inception in 1996, Mr. Malla also asserted that WNO activities serve as the third stage of a Newah movement focused among Nepalese diaspora.
- Dr. Arjun Kumar Karki, Chief Guest of the Convention and Nepalese Ambassador to the USA, expressed his happiness at being a part of this grand event of WNO. Praising the rich culture of the Newars, he said that Nepal and all Nepalese can be proud of Newar culture, feasts, festivals, arts, and architecture because of their uniqueness.
- Mr. Prem Raja Mahat, Special Guest and Regional Consular Officer, also expressed his honor to be a part of WNO’s grand event. He said that he was impressed by the hard work that the Convention Coordination Committee executed to bring such a huge crowd of enthusiastic participants from the USA, Nepal, and abroad. He wished for a successful gathering.
- Mr. Rajendra Shrestha, Keynote Speaker of the Convention and a Newah leader and Co-chairperson of the Sanghiya Samajabadi Forum, said that the Arya-Khas hegemony led by a few Bahun elites will not last long in Nepal. He further said that the new Constitution of Nepal was made by the Bahun leaders to protect their self-interests while denying rights to Madhesi, Tharu, and indigenous nationalities of Nepal. Promulgating a new Constitution that rejects equal rights to various nationalities of Nepal will bring only problems and not solutions. Unless serious efforts are made now to amend the Constitution to be inclusive of the needs and demands of all communities, the oppressed Madhesi, Tharu, and indigenous nationalities will rise against the Arya-Khas domination, which will be very costly. He added that oppressed nationalities, including the Newah, are internally colonized people of Nepal. He further stated that internal colonization is more dangerous than imperialism—internal colonies never get back their freedom while empires may return freedom to people later, as in India. The Arya-Khas oppressed Newah people for 248 years. He demanded federalism with identity to emancipate all oppressed nationalities.
- Mr. Luisang Waiba, President of Janajati Mahasangh, also spoke in the program.
Following the speeches, WNO General Secretary Dr. Narayan Rajbhandari and WNO Treasurer Mr. Swoyambu Dhar Tuladhar presented the progress report and financial report for the period since October 2011. Dr. Rajbhandari said that WNO is moving forward with its mission and philosophy. Its members are working hard, aiming towards benefitting the Newah community in the world. He requested a motion to endorse the revised WNO Constitution. The motion was seconded by Mr. Tuladhar and endorsed with big applause from attendees. During the opening session, the WNO Second Convention souvenir publication Halin Newa and Mr. Rajive Shanker Shrestha’s book called The Newars World-wide were officially launched.
At the end, WNO Vice President Mr. Krishna Chakhun spoke on behalf of the organization to express sincere thanks to participants for their enthusiasm and support. He also applauded WNO Executive Board members for their sincere commitment to advancing the organization’s mission and goals. He sincerely thanked all sister organizations, members, friends, volunteers, performers, and families for their wonderful support to launch the Convention successfully. He extended his thanks to NPPA and NOA for their efforts to bring the Convention to this stage. WNO Vice President Mr. Daya R. Shakya then adjourned the inaugural ceremony.
Eighteen different presentations were made, covering historical evolution to computer technology in promoting and preserving Newah civilization. Seminars focused on raising voices in support of human rights to Newars’ independent identity, language, and culture. This was a gift to the world community in support of a harmonious “ethnosphere”—from exploring scientific innovations in preserving Newah civilization to the lack of Newar involvement in Nepal politics and administration to defend Newah identity and values; from marking Swasthani Bakhan, Bahahs, and Bahis as symbols in the process of Newah advancement to anticipating a need for cultural research to promote Newah costumes like Haku Patasi. Convention participants appreciated the opportunity to hear about the subject matters described in the presentations. (See Appendix A for a listing of speakers with topics.)
While conducting the seminars, approximately 16 participating organizations presented their organizational missions and philosophies: WNO–Nepal Chapter, Canadian Newa Guthi, Nepal Pasa Pucha Amerikaye (NPPA), New York Newa Guthi, Newa American Dabu Chicago, Newa Cultural Society of Alberta, Newa Pucha–Qatar, Newah Organization of America (NOA) and chapters from Seattle, Northern California, Southern California, and New England, Newah Organization of New England, Pasa Pucha Guthi–U.K., Tanahun Newah Khala (Nepal), and United Newah USA. Because of time limitations, some seminars were rescheduled for the next morning.
A traditional Newah bhoy (feast) with aiyla (liquor) was offered under the supervision of WNO Advisor Mr. Ram Malakar. The banquet was generously hosted by NPPA and NOA with food catered from Himalayan House Restaurant of Baltimore.
The cultural program magnificently showcased the beauty of Newah culture with dances, songs, and a fashion show. Emcees Mr. Pushkar Prajapati, Mr. Pushkar Mathema, and Ms. Rashmila Prajapati introduced the talented performers. Among the dances, the Astamaatrika dance led by Mr. Yagya Man Shakya was a stand-out and received applause throughout the performance. It was the first and foremost presentation of this traditional dance in the USA. Due to time limitations, a few important performances could not be included. We deeply regret that these wonderful contributions could not be shared.
At the end of the culture program, Election Commission Chair and WNO Advisor Dr. Maheswor Baidya announced the new WNO Executive Board members for the next three-year term (2016–2019):
Mr. Season Shrestha (USA)— President
Mr. Daya Ratna Shakya(USA)—Vice President
Dr. Narayan Rajbhandari (USA)—Vice President
Mr. Swoyambhu Dhar Tuladhar (Portugal)—Vice President
Mr. Subhash Ram Prajapati (USA)—General Secretary
Mr. Rajeesh Shrestha (USA)—Executive Member
Mr. Krishna Chakhun (UK and CIS Countries)—Public Relations Officer
The new WNO leadership was welcomed with big applause from the audience.
Day Three—Sunday, March 27, 2016
The third convention day concluded the closing ceremony, additional presentations, preparation of the Convention Declaration, a luncheon, and sightseeing.
The closing ceremony commenced with Buddhist chanting by Maryland’s Paramparagat Budha Dharma Sangha, followed by Ani Choying Dolma’s melodious singing in support of earthquake victims in Nepal. This was followed by release of a new Newah music CD, Sulin-2. This CD was composed with lyrics by the great Newah poet, Janakabi Mr. Durga Lal Shrestha, with music composed by Mr. Nhyu Bajracharya, and voice by Mr. Prabin Tamrakar. It is notable that Sulin-2 is a translation in Nepal Bhasa by Mr. Durga Lal Shrestha from renowned Hindi poet Mr. Harivanshrai Bachchan’s Madhusala. This CD was officially opened at the Convention by Ani Choying Dolma, Mr. Nhyu Bajracharya, immediate past President Mr. Bal Gopal Shrestha, new President Mr. Season Shrestha, and Mr. Suman Shrestha, son of Mr. Durga Lal Shrestha. Mr. Suman Shrestha emotionally acknowledged his father’s dedication to promoting Newah literature and also recited his father’s poem. The second part of the day’s program continued the seminars from the previous day, with various scholars making presentations (see Appendix A for a listing of speakers).
Lunch at Kathmandu Kitchen Restaurant was generously sponsored by local community members Mr. Suman Singh, Mr. Ganesh Malego, Mr. and Mrs. Ravi and Meena Pradhan, Mr. Season Shrestha, Mr. Prakash Maharjan of Mount Everest Restaurant, and Mr. Sundar Rajbhandari and Mr. Kiran Pantha of Kathmandu Kitchen Restaurant. The Convention concluded with a trip to scenic Baltimore Harbor.
Appendix A WNO Second Convention Presenters
Mr. Prajwol Bajracharya (USA)—Introduction to Newah Buddhist Mahabihar in the West
Mr. Samanta Bajracharya (USA)—Revival of the Newah Guthi System
Dr. Jessica V. Birkenholtz (USA)—Life of a Text: The Making of the Swasthani Bakhan
Mr. Tri Prasad Dhaubhadel (Canada; with Dr. Hemanta Joshi)—Briefing about Newah Culture Society of Alberta
Dr. Hemanta Joshi (Canada; with Mr. Tri Prasad Dhaubhadel)—Briefing about Newah Culture Society of Alberta
Mr. Amrit Lal Karmacharya (USA)—Briefing about NOA–Northern California chapter
Mr. Rajesh Maharjan (Qatar)—Briefing about Newa Pucha–Qatar
Dr. Bruce Owens (USA)—Bahahs and Bahis of Nepal
Mrs. Rita Devi Pradhan (USA) —Anandha Biswasye Liikunaa Chongu Satya
Mrs. Shrijana Pradhan (Nepal)—Newah Jatiya Adrisya Sanskriti Chhagu Mhasika (Intangible Newah Culture)
Mrs. Saroj Prajapati (USA; with Mr. Ram Lal Shrestha)—NOA and NPPA Joint Session
Mr. Subhash Ram Prajapati (USA)—Reconstructing the Identity: Social Transformation through Nusic in Newar Community of Nepal
Mr. Basav Rajopadhyay ( (USA; with Mr. Pramesh Shrestha)—World Newah Movement in Present Context
Ms. Bimina Ranjit (USA; with Mr. Sam Shakya)—Reviving Nepal Bhasa: A Documentary
Mr. Sam Shakya (USA; Ms. Bimina Ranjit)—Reviving Nepal Bhasa: A Documentary
Mr. Bimal Shrestha (Canada) —Canadian Newah Guthi
Mr. Durga Lal Shrestha (USA)—Briefing about NOA–Southern California chapter
Dr. Kavita Ram Shrestha (UK)—Newah Sahid and Newars Outside
Mr. Prabin Raj Shrestha (Nepal)—Newah Tajilazi wo Halan Jwolan
Mr. Pramesh Shrestha (USA; with Basav Rajopadhyay)—World Newah Movement in Present Context
Mr. Pramesh Shrestha (USA)—Briefing about United Newah USA
Mr. Ram Lal Shrestha (USA; with Mrs. Saroj Prajapati)—NOA and NPPA Joint Session
Mr. Sayunkta Shrestha (UK)—A Software Approach to the Preservation of Newah Heritage
Mr. Kumar Sindukar (USA)—Briefing about NOA–New England chapter
Mr. Niranjan Tamrakar (Nepal)—Cultural Heritage and Economic Empowerment: Impact of 2015 Earthquake and Recovery Efforts in Newar Community
Dr. Jyoti Tuladhar (Portugal)—Unity and Collective Voice in Promoting Newah Identity
Appendix B WNO Second Convention Performers
Mrs. Chhaya Pradhan—Asta Matrika
Mrs. Meeli Dhaubadel—Asta Matrika
Mrs. Kabina Sing Maharjan—Newah Dance
Ms. Pratisha Pradhan—Newah Dance
Mrs. Deepa Rajkarnkar—Asta Matrika
Ms. Lochani Tara Shakya—Kumari
Mrs. Mahima Shakya—Asta Matrika
Mrs. Shanti Shakya—Asta Matrika
Mr. Yagya Man Shakya—Bhairab
Mrs. Magan Shrestha—Newah Dance
Mrs. Mila Shrestha—Newah Dance
Mrs. Samjhana Shrestha—Asta Matrika
Mrs. Shanti Shrestha—Newah Dance
Mrs. Sunita Shrestha—Asta Matrika
Miss Yushish Shrestha—Newah Dance
Mr. Shiva Raj Joshi-Song
Ms. Praniva Pradhan-
Mr. Pushkar Prajapati -Instrumental
Master Jwoyal Ranjit—Instrumental
Ms. Mikha Shrestha—Instrumental
Mr. Nabin Shrestha- Song
Mr. Ram Shrestha-Song
Mr. Sujay Shrestha -Instrumental
Mr. Sushil Lal Shrestha -Song
Mrs. Mala Pradhan
Master Manu Pradhan
Mrs. Bimala Prajapati
Miss Wonjala Prajapati
Miss Lochani Tara Shakya
Ms. Asha Shrestha
Mrs. Meela Shrestha
Miss Prisha Shrestha
Master Samuel Shrestha
Master Manohar’s son Shrestha
Miss Kerisha Singh
Mrs. Sadika Maharjan Singh