On Saturday 22 April 2023, Pasa Puchah Guthi UK – London organised Guthi seminar titled “Newahs in Contemporary British Society” at the Khalili Lecture Centre at SOAS University. The event was attended by over 70 participants and featured 12 speakers from all over the UK. The seminar was divided into four sessions, 1. Art and Culture, 2. Language and Food, 3. STEM and 4. Finance and Entrepreneurship.
The keynote speaker of the event was Professor Gerard Toffin. Professor Toffin is a renowned French social anthropologist and Indologist who specializes in the study of Nepal and the Newah community. His research on the Newah Guthi stands out as a significant contribution to the field of anthropology.
The seminar started with welcoming remarks from Lisa Dali Shrestha, the General Secretary of Pasa Puchah Guthi UK – London, and was followed by a welcome address from the President, Rukmani Manandhar. The convenor of the seminar, Madhusudan Kayastha, thanked all the participants and explained the objectives of the seminar.
The first session, Art and Culture, was chaired by Sanyukta Shrestha, the former president of Pasa Puchah Guthi UK London. The speakers included Subina Shrestha, Journalist, Sandeep Tuladhar, VFX Artist and Cristeena Chitrakar, Author, who presented on topics ranging from Devi the Movie, the importance of animation, and the recently published photobook “Nepal Remembered”.
The second session, Language and Food, was chaired by Prof. David Gellner, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford. Prof Gellner has done extensive research on Nepal and the Newah and has been Patron for Pasa Puchah Guthi UK. The speakers included Dr Alexander James O’Neill, post-doctoral fellow, SOAS, University of London, Dr Uma Pradhan, Lecturer, UCL, Institute of Education, and Marilena Frisone, Assistant Lecturer, University of Cork. The session covered topics such as ‘Handwriting Recognition Technology for Prachalit Lipi’, ‘Language education and knowledge making in Nepal Bhasa School in Nepal’, and ‘the fame of Chhoyela: Newar Foodways in London’.
After a delicious contemporary Newah lunch, Professor Gerard Toffin presented the keynote speech on “The Spirit of the Newar Guthi System: Traditional and Modern”. A standing ovation was given to Professor Toffin for his remarkable contribution to the study of Newah Guthi, Newah people and their culture in Nepal.
The third session, STEM, was chaired by Dr. Sachetan Tuladhar, the former president of Pasa Puchah Guthi UK London and the speakers included Dipak Shrestha, Senior Software Engineer, Dr Krisha Manandhar, Veterinarian and Dr. Anil Shrestha, Clinical Director/Registered Specialist in Prosthodontics.The session covered topics such as ‘Changing my perspectives’, ‘Life as a Veterinarian’, and ‘Bringing Harley Street to Kathmandu – 20 years in the evolution of Dentistry in Nepal’.
The fourth and final session, Finance and Entrepreneurship, was chaired by Ojesh Singh, President, PPGUK (BOT). The speakers included Prajesh Shrestha, Mortgage Expert and Business Owner, Suraj Karmacharya, Vice President, Sustainable Finance, Barclays, and Sushil Prajapati, Entreprenuer. The session covered topics such as ‘Building bridges in the community, sustainable finance, and personal success stories.
The closing remarks were delivered by PPGUK-BOT President Ojesh Singh, who thanked all the presenters, session chairs, and especially the organising committee of Madhusudan Kayastha, Lisa Dali Shrestha, Pablika Shrestha, and Marilena Frisone.
The seminar was a huge success, showcasing the diverse contributions of Newahs to contemporary British society. It highlighted the importance of preserving and promoting Newah culture and traditions while embracing modernity and innovation.