Nepali Mela UK 2014, Kempton Park Racecourse. (Image: Premila van Ommen)
Nepali Mela UK 2014, Kempton Park Racecourse. (Image: Premila van Ommen)

From Kathmandu to Kent: Nepalis in the UK

Diversity, activism and religion in a new diasporic community.

(This is an essay from our December 2014 print quarterly, 'Diaspora: Southasia abroad'. See more from the issue here.)

Nepalis in Britain are one of the UK's most recent diaspora populations, younger and less visible than more established and better-known minorities from Southasia such as Pakistanis (approximately 1.2 million), Bangladeshis (around 450,000), Indians (1.4 million – whether from East Africa or India), or Sri Lankans (estimates up to 500,000). The UK's 2001 census recorded a mere 5943 people who had been born in Nepal. But beginning in 2004, Nepalis started to arrive in greater numbers and, for the next few years, they were one of the fastest-growing groups in the UK. Nepali restaurants began to appear in many British towns. Usually named after some variation on 'Gurkha' or 'Everest', they are decorated with posters of Swayambhu, Mount Machhapuchhre, or the living goddess Kumari, and tend to serve the long-established version of north Indian food adapted for British palates (usually served in 'Indian' restaurants run by Bangladeshis). As a nod to Nepaliness, the menu usually lists among its starters momos and choyala (made from mutton or chicken, buffalo meat not being easily available – though it has started to be sold in areas with high Nepali population).

Loading content, please wait...
Himal Southasian