New York City Mayor Proclaims Mithila Culture and Festival Day to Celebrate South Asian Heritage

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has declared April 15, 2023, as Mithila Culture and Festival Day in the City of New York. The proclamation comes as the Mithila Center, USA prepares to host its annual festival at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens.

The Mithila Center was established in 2021 by Amit Pratap Shah, an advocate for the Nepali community in Queens. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich culture of people from the Mithila region of northern India and southern Nepal, which blends ancient Nepali and Indian traditions with the wisdom and stories of the epic Ramayana and other Hindu literature.

The festival, guided by the theme of “Gender Equality” from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, will feature artworks by Mithila women and celebrate the Hindu New Year of Bikram Sambat and commemorate the birth of the ancient Himalayan king, Salhesh Jayanti.

Mayor Adams applauds the Center and its supporters for their commitment to foster positive change, cultivate community in the city’s most diverse borough, and showcase the storied heritage of Mithila people in South Asia and its diaspora in New York and beyond. The Mithila Culture and Festival Day is an opportunity for New Yorkers to come together and celebrate the contributions of generations of immigrants from around the world, including South Asian Americans who have made invaluable contributions to the city.

In the opening ceremony on April 14, Congresswoman Grace Meng of the U.S. House of Representatives delivered a speech. Other notable guests who gave greetings and speeches at the event included Eric Adam, Mayor of New York City; Manoj K. Sah, Mayor of Jankpurdham SubMetropolitan City; Mayor Mahesh Prasad Chaudhary of Lahan Municipality; John Liu, New York State Senator; Catalina Cruz, New York State Assemblywoman; Jenifer Rajkumar, New York State Assemblywoman; Sibu Nair, Deputy Director of New York State Governor Kathy Hochul; Adrienne Adams, New York City Council Speaker; Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India in New York; Bishnu Pd. Gautam, Acting Consul General of Nepal in New York; Dr. Neeta Jain, District Leader of NYC; Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar, AAPI Commissioner of the Governor of New Jersey State, USA; Nabaraj K.C., Asian Affairs Advisor to NYC Mayor Eric Adam; Suneel Sah, Treasurer of NRNA ICC; Dr. Rambabu Dhakal, Former Career Foreign Service Officer and delegate of Nepal to UNESCO and its World Cultural Heritage Committee; and Kishor Panthi, Chief Editor of Khasokhas. The program was conducted jointly by Mithila Center founder member and advisor Naval Yadav and founder president Amit Shah.

The festival, entitled “Art for SDGs: The Mithila Heritage”, will feature a virtual art exhibition on April 15, 2023, and an in-person group exhibition with an auction on April 16, 2023, at Diversity Plaza, Jackson Heights, New York, USA.

Mithila Center USA has announced the selected participating artists for the event, all of whom are from Nepal, India, and the USA. The selected artists are Bhagwati Singh, Pooja Singh, Shailo Yadav, Shaily Jha, Shivangi Singh, Shyam Sundar Yadav, Sumintra Yadav, Sunaina Karn, and Usha Karn. Eight of the selected artists are female, while one is male.

The festival’s closing ceremony on April 16 that will include a Kids Art Workshop/Award and a cultural program. The cultural program will celebrate Mithila Folk King Salhesh Jayanti, New Year, and Jude Sheetal/Jur Sital Festival.

According to Amit Pratap, the founding president and community organizer of Mithila Center USA, the festival is an effort to showcase SDGs through Mithila art. The focus of this year’s exhibition is SDG 5 (Gender Equality).

The grand success of the first Mithila Festival USA, with the inaugural exhibition entitled ‘Arts for SDGs: the Mithila Heritage,’ held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in April 2019, has motivated Mithila Center USA to continue organizing this event annually.

Mithila culture is a unique blend of ancient Nepali and Indian culture, with the epic Ramayana and other Hindu literature at its core. The Mithila culture is considered a living culture, as people from Nepal, India, and other countries belonging to the Mithila community embrace its cultural values and practices in their daily life. The largest number of Mithila community people live in New York and New Jersey in the USA.

Mithila art is well-known around the world. Mithila paintings have been in existence for centuries, with a great contribution from female artists. The art form traditionally narrates mythological and religious events and is also used for decoration as well as social commentary. Recently, Mithila paintings have gained popularity as a contemporary and collectible art form, with artists painting on rough handmade paper that is similar in texture to mud hut walls. Mithila art has opened up a new industry for women in impoverished rural communities.

The Mithila Festival USA 2023 Art for SDGs is expected to attract art enthusiasts and members of the Mithila community from around the world. The event will provide a platform to showcase Mithila heritage and promote United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.