Around 400 resettled Bhutanese Magar Bandhus (brothers) from various states in the US convened at Stone Mountain Community Center, Georgia for a two day long 1st Bhutanese American Magar National convention, 25th and 26th July, 2015.
Costumed with traditional Ghalyap, a scarf, Nar Bahadur Lhayo Magar, 86, and Chandra Bahadur Lhayo Magar,80, were the senior most amongst the gathering. ‘I am so glad to see our younger generation coming forward asking about one of the oldest ethnic cultures preserved amongst people of Nepali origin. Alike other ethnic groups and communities, Magar Samudaya (community) has inherited a rich culture from their ancestors’, said Chandra Bahadur Lhayo Magar with full of smile on his face pointing local artists performing folk dance on the stage.
‘Each community has one or the other unique culture. Living in a society with mixed culture is called a diverse community. I am getting old. I am forgetting many things. This is the time our young generation ask seniors- write, record and keep record and pass valuable messages and our shared beliefs for future use. Nothing is of less importance in its own form, anywhere- it is just a matter of how we make use of what we have inherited’, said Nar Bahadur Lhayo Magar, who talked to BNS together with Chandra Badhadur Lhayo Magar.
CK Pulami Magar, per organizing committee- founding father of Bhutanese Magar community, a former civil servant from Bhutan, a Headmaster in one of the refugee camp schools addressing the gathering said,-‘This type of meeting or the gathering, where youngest among the younger and the oldest among the older generation meet, listen and talk each other-is essential in each community to transform the rich culture to newer generations’.
‘We should not confuse anyone by wrongly defining religion and culture. We may fall under different religion but are under one culture. Culture is a shared belief, way of living and customs common between the members of a particular social group. It is an identity that distinguishes one society from another. Dress we wear, language we speak are the inherited assets from our forefathers. These are the ornaments of ours. So this convention is convened to encourage our younger generation to work on preservation and promotion of our rich shared culture’, Pulami further said.
‘We have our own language (dialect) engrained from our forefathers. Later on some of our visionary leaders came up with the script and started documenting the terminologies, reforming the way of performing rituals and adding values to our one of the oldest considered cultures among the Nepali people. This initiative of ours is to strengthen and develop our scripts and give modern exposure so that our children will side by side grow with our Magar culture along with what they learn in modern ways’, said Sarman Samal and Gopal Samal during a chit-chat session.
It is said that the dialects Magars speak are rooted in the Bodic branch of Sino-Tibetan Family. Magars commonly use Magarkura, Khamkura and Kaikekura dielects as communicating language. They mostly believe in Shamanism and call Bhusal to their priests.
The first day entertained the audience with folk songs and dances from representing various ethnic communities.
The second day session of the convention included discussion session on various issues faced and raised by the community members from different states. And, elected through secret ballot Talman Pithakotay Magar as the president, Sarman Samal Magar as the vice-president, Badal Samal Magar as the secretary and Dhiraj Lungali Magar as the tresaurer of the Magar community.
The two day long gathering comprising of Magar Bandhus from California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky,North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, Georgia and Massachusetts ended with a get-together picnic at Milam Park.