New Immigrants Search for Place of Worship

Apr 30, 2013

Immigrants Look for Hindu Place of Worship

From “New American Stories” produced by Erika Lorentzsen. At weddings, there are different rituals, from breaking glass to receiving a necklace, depending on the culture. Here’s a day at a Bhutanese wedding in Fargo. Even though the Bhutanese do not have a place of worship, they made do with what they had. The bride’s hands were done in Henna by a local Somali woman. People came together to celebrate.


For these Bhutanese refugees, times weren’t always so great for a wedding. Many got married in a refugee camp in Nepal. At the Charism Center in Fargo, Bhumika Nepal receives the glass necklace from the groom Lila Dahal. The necklace is a symbol of marriage in their culture like a ring is to ours. She will wear the necklace for the rest of her life. Kashi Adhikari, a leader in the community, says divorce is rare.


We believe these sorts of ritual is exactly working as making family very stable that divorce is any family issue because of this strong cultural bond conducting rituals and culture.


Community member Narayan Khanal feels his culture helps hold society together. He says Bhutanese work and cooperate with each other collectively.


Actually now a days people are saying marriage is a personal affair. But according to our culture, we don’t think of it that way. We think it is related to society. We need to be bound by certain rules and regulation in our culture. We have strong coordination and combination. So that is coordination and cooperation among different people. So they help each other in order to do something. One family member cannot do all these things. They help each other. So we have strong coordination, cooperation, understanding and mutual understanding. That is a main model of our culture.


When immigrant groups first come to an area, it takes awhile to accumulate enough people and resources to establish a place of worship. Bhumika’s brother Yadev Nepal says he isn’t sure why, but the Charism center won’t be available for their use anymore. He says focus now turns to building their own Hindu temple – and he is hopeful. Having fought against the Bhutanese government not to change their religion and culture, Adhikari says it is even more necessary for them now to keep it alive for their children and grandchildren. This is Erika Lorentzsen for Prairie Public.


In our next report, some immigrants may feel on the outside in North Dakota. One woman voices her opinion of acceptance of others. This series was made possible by the support of the Humanities Council and FM Area Foundation.