The Bhutanese Community of Syracuse (BCS) has marked this year’s Vijaya Dashami with various programs, including a nine day Durga Puja celebration and a cultural event that was observed at the local school’s auditorium on October 2.
Vijaya Dasami started with the first day of Durga Puja that began on Ghatasthapana and it will conclude on Dashami with receiving mass Tika from Swami Damodaracharya. The nine days Durga Puja includes daily Saptasati Paath by two priests and Prabachan by Swamiji. In the evening, program concludes with Aarati.
Interestingly, on the fourth day of Durga Puja, nine young girls were presented in nine different forms of goddess Durga (Sailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri).
Meanwhile, the cultural event was organized on the fifth day of Durga Puja amidst a big gathering. The event that was conducted at the auditorium of Franklin Magnet Elementary school observed various Nepali cultural dances and a short drama highlighting the importance of Vijaya Dashami. It was a grand event where around 500 people, including the Bhutanese-Nepalis of Syracuse, representatives from different refugee communities, Health care professionals and officers from Police department, some professors and students from local universities seemed enjoying and getting closer to the Nepali cultural aspects and even tasting delicious Nepali foods.
“In three years of leaving the refugee camp, this years’ Vijaya Dashami really attracted me and it seemed to me that I am still back in Nepal”, opined Padma Lal Bhattarai, an eighty years old with a smile in his face.
On one hand, audience seemed overwhelmed by the beautiful dances. On the other hand, they seemed equally enjoying the drama on their high spirits.
“It was really challenging to manage the materials for actors, their costume and make up to depict the real characters as we tried to give a clear picture to the non-Nepalis and the young children who seem unknown on the significance of Vijaya Dashami, says Kumari Pokhrel who was one of the main persons who made drama possible. However, eventually every one, even the children seem enjoying it.”
Beth Bradway, executive director of Interfaith Works, one of the refugee resettlement agencies operating in Syracuse, and the chief guest of the cultural event expressed her gratitude towards the Bhutanese-Nepalis, and stressed on being united to do any work.
“It is natural to get discriminated in this new land; however, you all have to come together to fight against it”, warned Broadway adding racism has a deep root throughout the world but it should be fought with unity and sincerity.
With the effort of young college student, Nabin Bhattarai, a short slide show on “The glimpse of the history of ethnic Nepalis in Bhutan” was made possible. The slide show that chronologically depicted the history of ethnic Nepalis migrating to Bhutan on the sixteenth century, the discrimination on them by the Druk regime, story on how they were forced to leave their country, hardships in the refugee camps, attempts of repatriation and the resettlement process, was observed by the guests with enthusiasm.
Hari Bangaley, the president of BCS highlighted the present situation of Bhutanese in Syracuse. He extended his sincere gratitude to everyone who have been supporting the Bhutanese-Nepalis, and urged them to help BCS find ways to works towards self sufficiency.
“The present number of Bhutanese in Syracuse comes to be around 3000, and we have not been able to establish even a community center of our own. We have so many programs, including ESOL classes and citizenship classes going on for three years, besides other community events. However, we are crippled financially. I request every individual to help us grow so that we shall be able to contribute on our part for the stronger America, concluded Bangaley.
In fact, BCS has been conducting series of programs with the commitment of preserving and promoting Nepali language, festivals, and different rites and rituals. Earlier, it organized group Snan (Holy Bath) on the occasion of Rishi Panchami on September 3 at the beach of Green Lake. The Snan was followed by Saptarishi Puja in group.
Also, Shree Krishna Janmasthami (birthday) was also observed on August 21 by offering prayer and worship to Lord Krishna.
Dashain cultural event that was partly sponsored by Dahal Grocery, a newly opened Nepali grocery store by Dahal family of Syracuse seemed to be very successful. The program that also saw a dance performance by Jawala Regmi, a former headmaster and camp secretary of Beldangi II, concluded with the “thank you” speech of Dr. Kamal Gautam.