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Kirat Community Organization of Akron Ohio: A Brief History

The  Kirat  Community  Organization  of  Ohio,  Inc,  (KCOO)  is  a  non-profit  organization. It  is organized exclusively for  religious,  cultural,  educational and charitable purposes under Section 501(c)(3) of Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code. Some of the main objectives of the organization are as follows.

  • to practice, preserve and promote Kirat religion and culture,
  • to communicate   and   advocate   for   necessary   support   and  assistance  to   the  Kirat community members,
  • to organize  programs  such  as  educational,  health,  games  and  sports,  charitable  and noteworthy humanitarian events in the community.
  • to facilitate and enable the Kirat community members smoothly integrate themselves into the American mainstream society.
  • to cooperate  and  collaborate  with  other  organizations  in  the  American  mainstream society.

Kirat  community organization was  formally  established in 2009  in Akron, USA. Since then, it has  been  serving  the  community by  organizing  religious, cultural  and social  functions. It  was officially registered with the state of Ohio as Kirat Society of Ohio, Inc, on January 15, 2015. A year later, in order to better reflect the community based nature of the organization, its name was amended  to  Kirat  Community  Organization  of  Ohio,  and  filed  the  name  change  application which was approved by the state of Ohio on July 6, 2016.

Bhutanese  citizens  of  all  ethnicities  had  lived  in  peace  and  harmony  in  Bhutan  for  several generations   until   late   1980’s   when   the   government   of   Bhutan   imposed   the   racist   and discriminatory  policies,  specifically,  targeting  its  citizens  of  Nepali  descent.  The  government made  the  situation  so  unbearable  that  the  people  had  no  choice  but  to  flee  their  own  home country. Most of them ended up in Nepal and lived in  the refugee camps managed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for many years.

Even though Kirat people had their own religion and rich cultural heritage they were not known by the term Kirat in Bhutan back then. The term Kirat became popular after they started living in the refugee camps. Being confined  to live  in the refugee camps and nothing much to do,   they found ample opportunities and time to learn, practice and promote Kirat religion and culture. A Kirat Manghim (i.e. a house of God) was constructed in Beldangi 1 in Jhapa, Nepal, the first of its  kind by  Bhutanese  Kirats which   became  the center  of congregation  for  religious  practice, prayers and worship.

Meanwhile several  bilateral talks for  repatriation  of the Bhutanese refugees were held between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal without any success.   The option to assimilate in the host country, Nepal, was not available. The third possible solution of the refugees crisis according to the  UNHCR  is the  third  country  resentment. When  the donor  countries offered  to  resettle the Bhutanese  refugees  in  their  respective  countries  on  humanitarian  grounds  the  overwhelming majority  of  the  refugees  decided  to  take  a  chance  to  endeavor  into  the  uncharted  territory. Beginning  in   early  2008,   under   the  auspices  of  the  the  government  of  Nepal,  UNHCR, International  Organization  for  Migration  (IOM)  and  the  resentment  country,  more  than  one hundred thousand Bhutanese refugees have been resettled in the western countries out of which more than ninety thousand people have been resettled in the United States alone. It is estimated that about 10% of these resettled population are Kirats.

Ohio  state  has  the  largest  number  of  Kirat  population  in  the  U.S.  With  the  rapidly  growing population of the Kirats, there was an urgent need to form an organization to help address many different  issues  that  these  people  encountered  in  their  new homes. Thus  an  organization was established  in  2009  during  the  very early  phase of  the resettlement process.  The  organization played  a  very  important  role  in  addressing  the  religious,  cultural  and  social  needs  of  these people.

Mubekwa Chasok  Tangnam aka  Udhauli Sewa was performed  in Akron, Ohio,  on  October 4, 2009, perhaps     the     very     first     of     its     kind     in     the     U.S.     (click     the     link for  a  short  video clip of the event). This became a trailblazer event.  This event was held at a volley ground. Since then the major Kirat religious and cultural events, viz., Khibekwa Yakwa Sewa aka Ubhauli Sewa and Mubekwa Sewa, Birth Anniversary of  His  Holiness  Falgunanda,  Birthday Celebration  of His  Holiness Atmananda Lingden, Birth Anniversary  of Kiratologist  Iman  Singh  Chemjong,  and Kirat  Annual Program have been held regularly every year.

On July 2017, Kirat Community Organization of Ohio established a Kirat Community Center at a  rental  property  comprising  of  a  hall  and  a  Manghim.  The  Center  is beaming with  a lot of activities. Some of the highlights of the ongoing activities are as follows.

  • A Mang Sewa Saba (i.e. Kirat Priest) performs a morning prayer every day, seven days a week.
  • Mang Sewa Samlo, i..e the singing of hymns are held every Sunday.
  • Teaching and  learning  of  mang  lang  (i..e.  the  spiritual  dance),  ke-lang  (i..e  the  drum dance), and sakela (i.e. another drum dance) takes place regularly.
  • Monthly prayers are conducted every second Sunday of the month for the general public.
  • Monthly Board Meetings are held every last Sunday of the month.

Since a few years ago Kirat Community Organization of Ohio has been working on an ambitious project for  the construction of  its own  Kirat  Community  Center with  a big hall  replete  with a state-of-the-art  stage  and  sound  system,  and  a  unique  Kirat  Manghim  as  a  symbol  of  Kirat identity.  During  the  recent  National  Kirat  Convention  held  in  Salt Lake  City,  Utah,   in June 2018,  Kirat  Community  Organization  of  America  (KCOA)-  the  national  organization  of  the Kirats in America, agreed to support this proposal and declared unanimously for the construction of  the  National  Kirat  Community  Center  and  a  National  Manghim  in  Akron,  Ohio.  Kirat Community  Organization of  America and  Kirat  Community Organization of Ohio are working hand in hand to materialize this dream in the near future.

Stay tuned!