Newah Convention in USA

On Saturday, May 24, 2014, the Newah Organization of America (NOA) held its successful and festive 13th Annual Convention and General Meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland. The convention theme was “Diversity Among the Newars.” With more than 200 attendees, the program was enjoyed by a cross-section of the Newah and Nepalese community from the Washington, DC metropolitan area as well as guests from several states, Canada, and Nepal.

The program started with a warm welcome by Dhimay Baja and the Pancha Kanyas: Miss Bibhusa Pikha Miss Mala Pradhan, Miss Lujala Ranjit, Miss Kate Shrestha, and Miss Prisha Shrestha. NOA General Secretary Mrs. Babita Shrestha and NOA Member-At-Large Mr. Pushkar Prajapati served as Emcees and called the meeting to order. Chief Guests Dr. Juhee Gubhani of Edmonton, Canada and the Embassy of Nepal's Charge d' Affaires a.i. Mr. Rishi Ram Ghimire inaugurated the 13th convention by lighting the traditional oil lamp, Twadewa, assisted by Mrs. Meena Pradhan and Mrs. Chitra Shrestha. Mrs. Chhaya Pradhan and Mrs. Sunita Shrestha presented badges and Khatas to the Chief Guests and the special guests.

NOA President Mr. Season Shrestha delivered his last presidential address, welcoming all guests and organization representatives, thanking attendees for their continued support, and expressing gratitude to the Chief Guests and Special Guests for travelling to join the 13th Annual Convention. He briefly introduced the great scholars on the day's program and took a few moments to appreciate the contributions of the outgoing Executive Committee, their families, the Election Commission, and other key advisors and volunteers for their amazing work for the Newah community.

Charge d' Affaires from the Embassy of Nepal Mr. Rishi Ram Ghimire delivered his message and expressed appreciation for the role that NOA plays in preserving and promoting Newah culture, tradition, heritage, and language. He also mentioned that Newah culture is the backbone culture of Nepal.

General Secretary Mrs. Babita Shrestha highlighted the annual activities of NOA. Treasurer Mr. Ram Lal Shrestha presented the NOA annual financial report. NOA Secretary Mr. Mahindra Pradhan briefed the activities of the NOA Language Center and urged parents to teach Nepal Bhasa at home and send their children to NOALC class. Past President and NOA Scholarship Program Chairman Mr. Rajesh Shrestha provided updates on the scholarship program sponsoring 27 students at Jagat Sunder Bwonekuthi, thanked all sponsors, and encouraged others to sponsor.

On behalf of NOA, Mr. Season Shrestha honored all special guests by presenting them with certificate of appreciation, honorary NOA Life Membership, and also a special plaque to Newah priest Mr. Basav Rajopadhyay and Dr. Juhee Gubhani to commemorate their contributions to the Newah cause. Laskus magazine bimochan was launched by a.i. Mr. Ghimire and Dr. Gubhani.

Honorable Chief Guest Dr. Juhee Gubhani delivered an amazing keynote speech, sharing her lifetime experiences with Newah culture, heritage, and language. She explained diversity among the Newah people to the crowd with many fine examples.

NOA Vice President Mr. Ravindra Pradhan thanked the volunteers for their tireless efforts; the participants, speakers, performers, organization representatives, and the media for their overwhelming support; Mr. Ajay Pradhan of Clay Oven Restaurant for catering; Mr. Dinesh Gurung for the sound system; Eastern Middle School for the venue for the event; Precision Solutions, Inc. for printing Laskus; Mr. Prithvi Ram Shrestha for designing Laskus, Mr. Kiran Shrestha for printing Brochures, Mr. Rajesh L. Shrestha for name tags, and all the financial contributors.

The talk program included four exciting sessions followed by special presentations:

Mr. Prabin Raj Shrestha delivered a very informative presentation about the festivals of Sankhu.
Mr. Raj Bhai Jakami recited a poem about the late poet Siddhi Charan and told the crowd about the Newah movement through literature, poems, and so forth and entertained participants by quizzing them.
Dr. Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz presented the history of the Swasthani Brata Katha and its connection with the Newah People. The tradition was later adopted by other communities in Nepal around 1900.
Ms. Shobha Shrestha explained the very interesting facts about Haku Patasi, its origin, and use withing the Newah community. Ms. Shrestha did her research in Haku Patasi)
NOALC students Master Joyal Ranjit, Miss Mala Pradhan, and Miss Lochani Tara Shakya read about the Kayeta Puja (Brata Bandha) tradition in Newah community in Nepal Bhasa and in English respectively.
NOA held an election this year for its 2014-2017 Executive Committee. Election Commission Chair Mr. Hariman Shrestha, Commission Members Dr. Maheswor Baidya and Mr. Ratna Kazi Shakya announced the election results and distributed certificates of office to the newly elected Executive Committee. Here are the results for the next 3-year term:

President - Mr. Ram Lal Shrestha
1st Vice President -Mrs. Babita Shrestha
2nd Vice President - Mr. Sushil L. Shrestha
General Secretary - Mr. Mahindra Pradhan
Secretary -Mr. Pushkar Prajapati
Treasurer -Mr. Rajesh L. Shrestha
Member-At-Large -Mr. Divakar Daubhadhel
Member-At-Large - Mr. Kiran Ranjit
Member-At-Large - Mr. Yagya Man Shakya

Emcees Ms. Sichu Mali and Ms. Sabrina Shrestha hosted the culture program, which kicked off with a group song Newah jhi Newah he juya followed by Newah group song by Mr. Sushil L. Shrestha, Pushkar Prajapati, Mr. Ranjaya Shrestha, Mrs. Samjhan Shrestha and Mrs. Bimala Prajapati, Mr. Sudin Amatya, and Mr. Divakar Daubhadhel. This was followed by a performance showcasing "diversity among the Newars" by Master Abhi Dhaubhadel, Master Adi Shakya, Master Ayush Joshi, Master Anir Lakhe, Master Arnav Lakhe, Miss Bibhusa Pikha, Miss Hridesha Tamrakar, Miss Mala Pradhan, Master Manindra Pradhan, Miss Megha Joshi, Master. Jwoyal Ranjit, Miss Lujala Ranjit, Miss Lochani Tara Shakya, Master Pranav Shrestha, and Miss Prisha Shrestha (Concept by Mrs. Chhaya Pradhan and Mrs. Sunita Shrestha and Coreography by Mr. Yagya Man Shakya). There were many fantastic dance performances, including a unique sweta Ganesh dance by Mr. Yagya Man Shakya, and dances by Ms. Sunita Amatya, Ms. Mila Shrestha, Ms. Pratisha Pradhan and Ms. Rubika Joshi, Miss Rikushna Karki and Miss Srastha Maharjan, and Miss Lochani Tara Shakya . The cultural program was also entertained by well known singers included Mr. Yaman Shrestha, Mr. Sanjeep Pradhan, Mrs. Sarana Shrestha, Mrs. Sarishma Amatya, and as well as an instrumental performance byMaster Bardan Tuladhar with Mr. Pushkar Prajapati.

The event also featured samay bajee and dinner catered by Clay Oven Restaurant, "Jeegu Hogangu Suruwa" a Newah album release of music by Sanjeep Pradhan sponsored by NOA, and lively dancing by many attendees. The convention stretched well into the evening and ended with a lot of wonderful new memories.

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