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A Bhutani–Nepali’s quest for preserving Nepali language and culture in the US

"We focus on education and engagement, which are key strategies in ensuring the continuity of Nepali traditions."

United States: Born in the Betini area of the Surrey  block in Bhutan, Keshav Ghimirey and his family were rendered as refugees by the oppressive Bhutanese regime. In the 19 years of his life as a refugee, marked by hunger, deprivation, and pain, Ghimirey understood literature from a young age. Ghimirey initially began writing prose and poetry. After his settlement in the US in 2012 , he has been continuously active in the literary field. 

In 2014, he became a founding member of the Matribhasha Samrakshyan Samuha which has been working for protecting Nepali culture and identity. Ghimirey writes ghazals, stories, poems, haikus, and essays, and about half a dozen of his creations have been published.  Ghimire, who goes by the literary name of ‘Bairagi Mailo’, enjoys literature greatly and has recorded over a dozen songs in 18 different languages.  He believes literature connects society and the country. Currently, he is working as the president of the Triveni Sahitya Manch, the literary organization established in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 2017, the main objective of which is to preserve, promote and enhance language, literature and music. The organization has been enthusiastically engaging children and youths in various programs during occasions such as Bhanu Jayanti, Laxmi Jayanti, Moti Jayanti and Lekhnath Jayanti among others. The Sahitya Manch sets an example by valuing the preservation of Nepali language.

The DMN News correspondent Arjun Pradhan spoke to Keshav Ghimirey, the winner of national Sadhana Music Award 2076 and Sagarmatha Music award 2076, recently. 

What inspired you to found the Triveni Sahitya Manch? What are its primary objectives?

We established the Triveni Literature Forum in 2017 to provide a platform for people who enjoy creating literature, and for the development of mother tongue and literature.

How has your involvement as a founding member influenced the organization’s direction and activities?

It seems like people were aware of my  dedication to creative writing, and perhaps seeing my involvement, everyone provided the energy needed to establish the stage easily. Prosperity enriched with identity, elevated literature, art, and culture of the Nepali language.

What specific programs and events does the Triveni Sahitya Manch organize to engage children and youths in language, literature and music?

Triveni Sahitya Manch organizes various programs such as literary, musical, cultural programs and debate events. It plans events keeping all age groups in mind so that no one feels left out. Our programs bring together people of all ages, providing opportunities for everyone to participate.  It particularly celebrates the birthdays of four Nepali poets: Bhanubhakta Jayanti, Laxmi Jayanti, Moti Jayanti, and Lekhnath Jayanti.

Why do you think celebrating these birthdays is important?

Each of these four festivals has its own significance. Bhanubhakta Acharya, being an ancient poet who translated the Ramayana into Nepali from Sanskrit, is honored for his contribution to Nepali literature by bringing the Ramayana into the hearts of Nepalis. Motiram, a young poet, made a significant contribution to Nepali literature by bringing the ghazal genre into Nepali, thus playing an important role in a short period. Laxmi Prasad Devkota, a great poet, not only introduced Nepali literature to the international literary world but also added a new dimension by writing epic poems and essays in Nepali and English language. Likewise, the poet Lekhnath Poudel popularized nature literature in various dimensions, winning the hearts not only of Nepalis but also of foreigners by writing epic and sectional poetry. These celebrations are a way to honor the contributions and legacy of these great poets.

How does the Triveni Sahitya Manch contribute to the preservation and promotion of language, especially in the context of cultural heritage and identity?

Our forum presents the language spoken by our mothers, the culture created by our ancestors, and the traditions in literature and music in a simple and accessible manner. Understanding the importance of this can be easily grasped by everyone. It raises awareness in every possible way that language preservation begins at home. Additionally, the literary forum also engages in the work of supporting and collaborating with new poets and writers.

Can you provide examples of how the organization supports talented artists and provides platforms for their talents to shine?

In the program organized by Triveni Sahitya Manch, bringing together various literary and social organizations to work for literary and social welfare fosters strong bonds of brotherhood. Furthermore, it promotes social harmony and tolerance. For example, on May 11 this year, I led a debate program where prominent figures from various literary organizations were present. People of all age groups actively participated in the program. Such programs not only help in networking but also provide opportunities for shared experiences. Participating in such events boosts morale and the experience gained contributes to personal growth, making the search for similar programs worthwhile.

This forum enthusiastically supports anyone who expresses a desire to publish their work. It has also extended its support to other artistic endeavors. It provides encouragement by offering a platform for literary workers to showcase their work.

How do you envision the Triveni Sahitya Manch evolving in the future, particularly in terms of its impact on the community and its efforts in language and culture preservation?

The organization aims to engage in various literary and cultural activities, including events for children born in America, publishing collective works, digitizing literary magazines, and creating literary apps. These initiatives contribute to the preservation, promotion, and development of language and literature.

What encouraged you to compose and translate your song ‘Janmabhumi Nepal Aama Hamro Punya Dhama’ into 18 different languages? 

The song is about our love for Nepal (you may listen to the song by clicking here).  This song is a Nepali composition translated into English. It’s a bit different from other songs. After Nepal became a republic, it was divided into seven provinces. This song was created by incorporating both old and new Nepali history. Although I was born in Bhutan, my childhood was spent in Nepal, where I got the opportunity to study the Nepali language after losing my homeland. Now I am in America, but the fragrance of Nepali soil still remains in my hands. Since I can do something for Nepal, I have written songs in various languages to introduce Nepal to the world. This song has been prepared with significant support from respected mentor Bharat Sigdel and in collaboration with respected individual Madhav Sharma. The song was composed with the support of the Campus of International Languages, Nepal.

How do you encourage preservation and promotion of Nepali arts , culture, language and music in the US?

With vision of preservation and promotion ,Triveni Sathitya Manch, advocating Nepali languages in every form of programs. We have Nepali schools in our cities. We encourage every household and engage more of our kids to show and present them our heritage. During the tenure of my presidency, our board of directors is always focused on main Nepali arts, music and language. We focus on education and engagement, which are key strategies in ensuring the continuity of Nepali traditions. The first thing we all need to understand is that literature is like a vast ocean. Many organizations with similar missions are aging like withered trees, and some have even merged. But breaking apart instead of coming together isn’t a solution. Let’s work together, utilize our resources, and work under one platform to move forward.