[Note: This story was part of a school assignment]
Ojha is a UTA social work alumna.
A temple and its many faces
Adjacent to a slow-traffic street, stands an orange edifice with wooden columns and pointy towers, called shikhara in Sanskrit. The site seems unrepresentative of the neighborhood houses and sorrounding businesses. Thousand miles away from home, a portion of the Nepalese diaspora residing in Irving, TX converge at the location on Sundays.
The Social Worker
Social worker Ojha is a member of the Nepalese Society of Texas, which is based on the temple. The society promotes Nepalese culture and tradition in Texas and the U.S. Frequently, Ojha and the society team hold fundraisers at social events to provide aids to Nepal, a country in constant political instability.
The society also organizes children cultural dance and education classes, some taught by Ojha.
“The kids absolutely love it,” Ojha said. “It’s good to see the generation after me still wanting to indulge in Nepali culture.”
About 20 children of varying age groups take regular classes from her. All of the children attend schools, have American friends and live with their Nepalese parent.
A cultural anthropologist, like Neha Vora, would argue the children are “transnational” who hold the dynamics and understandings of gender, class, ethnicity, generation and religion that are both specific to the context of Nepal, the country their parents have ties to and their current homeland, the U.S.
The temple and the cultural classes act as a place for the children to exercise their “Nepaliness.”
“My mom and dad likes me to come here,” one of Ojha’s student said. “I learn Nepali words and dance and speak with my friends.”
A Parent’s Pride
According to U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 estimates, about 129,450 Nepalese-born population live in the U.S.
The parents also come to the temple to exercise their “Nepaliness”. People come to pay respect and worship the several Hindu and Buddhist deity idols at the temple.
But the cultural classes are a way to preserve their culture and teach valuable life lessons to the children who lack the feeling of cultural nostalgia, said a student’s father.
“I want him to learn what being a Nepali means, what is it like in Nepal, what we went through,” he said. “We have a strong community here, thankfully, to do that.”
Is this unusual acculturation process reshaping the American understanding of immigration? Share your ideas and comments.