Nepali-speaking community in Kolkata promoting cultural connectivity between two nations

Bhim Bahadur Shrestha, an entrepreneur running a metal finishing business in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, originally hails from Ramechhap, Nepal. Having made Kolkata his working station, he has been residing and working there for the past four decades.

He worked in the private sector for the first few years after his arrival in Kolkata. He later made his mind to venture into self-employment and started his own metal finishing business. The business thrived over the course of time.

Shrestha now holds the post of the ‘chairperson’ of the ‘Shree Shree Janaki Mata Nepali Religious Association’ and is associated with other several philanthropic activities.

When inquired about socio-economic status of Nepali and Nepali-origin Indians in Kolkata, Shrestha, the resident of Kakurgachhi said, “People’s livelihood is good, but the plan of the Indian Government to implement the National Registered Citizens (NRC) may cause problems for the Nepali community.

The scope for them is likely to shrink.” The NRC aims to tighten the illegal migrants by documenting all the legal citizens of India so that illegal migrants can be identified and deported.

If the provision is implemented, Nepalis here will not secure benefits in business or find employment as in the past. He urged Nepali to explore their career within the country or choose other countries. Before Covid-19 pandemic, Shrestha was running his business with the help of 40 workers, now the number fell to 13.

Nepali origin people in Kolkata are mostly in security guard, government service, informal labour, transport sector, hotel business and jewelry trading to medical and engineering profession.

Nepali-speaking people have been celebrating their own rituals and festivals. While speaking Nepali language at home, they also speak Hindi, Bengali and English at educational institutions and offices as per the need.

Every year during Dashain festival, a puja is conducted from the beginning of the Navaratri on the initiatives of the Gorakhnath Sewa Samiti.

A temporary temple of Pashupatinath was constructed, and a statue of goddess Durga installed near New Market in the SN Banerjee Road on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the committee, said the committee general secretary Nara Bikram Thapa.

A Nepali magazine ‘Maulo’ edited by Thapa is being published on the occasion of Dashain festival every year, and the committee has published a magazine ‘Naulo Bihani’ annually.

Various Prabashi Sangathans (overseas Nepali organisations) have been engaged in several social and welfare work. The ‘Nepali Janakalyan Samiti’ has been organising various programmes on the occasion of Bhanu Jayanti (Birth Anniversary of Aadikabi Bhanu Bhakta Acharya).

On 22 July, 2023, the committee organised an event at Sarat Sadan in Howrah in India to observe the 210th Bhanu Jayanti. The event was chaired by the Nepal Academy Chancellor Bhupal Rai.

The ‘Bharat Nepal Janamaitri Sanskritik Manch’ chaired by Khimraj Baral has been organising the international literature conference every two years.

Janaki Mata Nepali Dharmik Sangh has from time to time organised a blood donation programme and a health camp, and has been feeding the poor people on every Saturday.

The Sangh donated Rs 400,000 to the victims of the Melamchi flood two years ago, and Rs 73,000 to a kidney patient of Ramechhap district, said its chairperson Gunjadas Shrestha.

A Nepali emigrant Tilakram Sharma has permanently settled in Baranagar, West Bengal, along with his family. Originally from Arghakhanchi district in Nepal, he works for an electricity supply corporation in Kolkata for the past 34 years.

His spouse Rama Sharma Paudel has actively engaged in social work here. She went to live with her spouse in India after quitting a job as a school teacher back in Nepal. Tilakram is currently serving as the general secretary of the Sangh, and his spouse Rama the chairperson of the ‘Janaki Mata Mahila Kalyankari Kosh’, a women welfare fund.

Initiated by the ‘Samyukta Nepali Welfare Trust’ with the investment of around INR 3 million, the construction of a permanent temple of Pashupatinath is underway at Behala of Maheshtala along New Vivekananda Park Road. Similarly, an initiative has been taken to construct a building for the Bharat-Nepal Sanskritik Sangh.

President of Janakalyan Samiti, Badri Bikram Thapa shared that they have been simultaneously giving priority to social service works while eking out a living even though they came here during the prime of their life and suffer from various hardships.

Born in Banskateri of Sindhuli district, Thapa had come to Kolkata when he was 11 years old. He came here along with his younger maternal uncle and brother Nara Bikram Thapa. In the beginning, he worked at a drug store and later at a private school.

He married Sapana Thapa from West Bengal. Mrs Thapa is attracted towards Nepal’s lifestyle, culture and customs as she used to frequently visit the country and she wishes to live in Nepal during old age.

Committee general-secretary Ram Bahadur Karki works at the Central Training Corporation under the Ministry of Labour of India where his father also worked. Originally from Pupamgu of Sankhuwasabha district, Karki plans to settle in Itahari of Sunsari after his retirement from service.

Baburam Sharma Basyal, who was born in Galyag of Palpa, has already retired from service at the Tourism Department of Madhya Pradesh. He has experience working as a cook at the Department. He has provided good education to his children by working hard in cities including Delhi and Udisha and believes that they will not have to face hardships like he did.

Litterateur Dharma Raj Baral who is involved in promoting ties between Nepalis and the Nepali diaspora in India in recent years said that the government has not paid adequate attention for further enhancing exchanges among the Nepalis and the Nepali-speaking communities here.

In his view, it would greatly help in enhancing the cultural, religious, social and economic relations between Nepal and India if the government bodies paid attention to expanding people-to-people exchanges.

The Nepali Consulate General based in Kolkata, which is Nepal’s oldest ‘mission’ in India and the Kolkata branch of Nepal Transit and Warehouse Management Company Limited have been working in promoting the Nepal-India bilateral trade, transit and ties in Kolkata.

Deputy Consular General Karna Prasad Timilsina said they have been working for the welfare of the Nepalis and the Nepali-speaking communities as well as for the promotion of bilateral ties.

According to him, the Nepali Consulate General has been handling works related to the export and import of goods to and from third countries, and rescuing and rehabilitating the Nepali women, children and senior citizens who have come here and have become helpless or landed in police custody for some or the other reason.

“We have been bringing together various social organisations that have been set up in the name Nepali community and been connecting with and reaching out to them on different national days and functions of Nepal. We have also been providing assistance as far as possible in the different activities these organisations are conducting,” Timilsina said.

Besides works related to visa and passport, the Nepali Consulate General has also been carrying out promotional activities for encouraging investment in Nepal and visit by tourists. Similarly, it has been coordinating and facilitating mutual interactions in matters of scholarship to students.



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