Colorado Celebrates Nepalese New Year

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by Genna Liu
The Nepalese community celebrates New Year with songs and cheerful colors. [Image: Pixabay]

Waving Nepalese and American flags and draped in bright saris and tunics, residents of Boulder, Colorado celebrated Nepalese New Year with a colorful parade downtown. Women donned ornate silk saris, many of them red to symbolize happiness and good luck, while men dressed in traditional tunics and intricately patterned caps. The crowd gathered to watch a display of the Lakhe dance — performed to fend off evil spirits — and to hear local dignitaries speak as they welcomed year 2074 of the Nepalese calendar. The event was hosted by the Rocky Mountain Friends of Nepal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the Nepalese community, on April 13.

In addition to the similar mountainous terranes that adorn both regions, Boulder has strong historical ties to Nepal. Nepalese immigrants first settled in Boulder in the 1970s, and in 2010 there were over 2,750 Nepalese residents in Colorado. In 2004, Boulder designated a Sunday in April as Nepal Day to celebrate Nepalese New Year. Every year, the Nepalese Student Association at the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) hosts Nepal Night, featuring performances, songs, and games. Recently, engineering students from UCB also traveled to Nepal and helped local officials build a slow sand filtration system. Following the devastating earthquake in 2015, the Colorado Mountain Club raised more than $109,000, which helped 281 families and two monasteries in rural Nepal.

Similar events are taking place across the country as more emphasis is placed on Nepalese culture. On the East Coast, Global Nepal Fest will commemorate the holiday and promote Nepalese culture in Washington DC, Baltimore, New York, and Boston. Hosted by Bhintuna International, the festival highlights Nepalese culture while recognizing several local organizations’ efforts in reconstruction and education efforts in Nepal. In Washington DC, Nepali was recently inducted as an optional language into the District’s secondary education curriculum.

In 2016, the United States exported $41 million in medical instruments, aircrafts, and machinery to Nepal. Following a $130 million pledge in disaster relief in 2015, the United States is continually working with Nepal to solve issues of poverty, healthcare, food insecurity, and climate change.

Genna Liu is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a government and economics student at Dartmouth College.