By chance if you happen to meet this young boy and that you start to chat with him in English, you might feel he already adopted the American life and he might be an abhorrence of his family’s long practiced tradition. A two-year old in USA, he speaks as fluently as an American child does, if not exactly.
Hardly it is convincing that the youngest generation, preferably below the start of teen epoch, once upon their arrival in the USA, keep their pique alive to promote culture and tradition. But, this young boy proved otherwise—where there is will there is way.
“It is a Nepali tradition and everybody should do it,” maintains Keshab Poudel, 11, who stepped into my apartment to paste “naag”, a sheet of paper portraying snakes to signify ‘naag panchami,’ an ancient Hindu tradition, early today morning along with his younger brother, Hemant, 6.
In Hindu tradition, today is observed as ‘Naag Panchami’, which is dedicated to honor the Serpent God or Naag Devta. Falling on the fifth day of bright-half phase of full moon of Shravan in July/August, reverence for the cobra (snakes) are paid. In Hindu mythology, fairly widespread before the Aryan invasion, worshipping of snakes or Naag was later incorporated into Hinduism by the Aryan themselves. Hindu Mythological books are famously filled with stories, fables and pictures of snakes.
Keshab, who learned about “naag panchami” when he was six-years-old in Bhutanese Refugee Camp Sanischare in Eastern Nepal, hastily adds that this time his ‘grandpa,’ in his own words, reminded him of the day. When asked if he did it to earn some money, he says “I am doing it for fun and on the meantime, this is our tradition and everybody should do it.”
A sixth grader at the Raleigh-based West Millbrook Middle School in North Carolina, Keshab, arrived in the USA along with his entire family three years back. The hearsays in refugee camps that people won’t be actually keen to conserve their culture and traditions after third country resettlement is actually proven wrong by these Poudel brothers, who look determined to follow their family’s long-practiced traditions even though their lifestyle started to be enveloped by modernization.
At a time when most of their fellow mates after resettlement have started finding intricate to cope with their family tradition amidst a new life in a new atmosphere, the young Poudel brothers, in one sense, surfaced as “paradigm of encouragement.” When Keshab readies himself to speak on the BNS voice recorder, his grandpa flashes smiley eagerness as if to mean he understood what his grandson was talking, but to no avail, for Keshav spoke in English—a never-learn language for grandpa.
Click here to listen to a portion of Keshab’s interview with BNS.
Keshab’s aim lives up as high as sky as he has a strapping dream of becoming a scientist in future. A brilliant student in Science and Mathematics, he perhaps finds a bit odd in the circle of his American friends at the school. “I have learned so many things from my friends and yet I feel I got to learn many things,” says Keshab.
For Keshab, the offer of resettlement has explored many ways to build up better future career. He opines that had he still been living in temporary refugee camps in Nepal, he could have ruined his life for lives in camps had always backpedaled attempts to seek better opportunities. Now he spends his holiday times, not simply staying at home, but focusing on studies—be it by sitting in the libraries or by bringing books to home to continue studying.
The future course of time will attest whether or not Keshav becomes a scientist in future but the clear undeniable fact is if he keeps up his determination and dedication always high, he is in a place encircled by opportunities; good luck, Keshab.
Click here to see photograph portraying another Bhutanese in Raleigh pasting the “naag”.
The author, who blogs at www.tpmishra.com, can be reached at: [email protected].