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Himalayan Bazaar Shop Brings Ann Arbor A Cultural Mixing Pot

By Elisha Neubauer

When it comes to Nepalese culture, nobody knows better than The Himalayan Bazaar. Co-owned by Pem Dorjee Sherpa and Heather O'Neal, the unique shop focuses on the culture, travel, and treasures of Nepal.

"Nepalese jewelry reflects the many rich traditions of the nation's diverse ethnic groups," states Dorjee. "The people adorn themselves with ornaments originating from deep cultural, religious and spiritual values. Depending on the region and religion, the jewelry is often symbolic and expresses ancient traditions."

According to Dorjee, there are many deities and symbols in Hindu and Buddhist art that have significants beyond their aesthetic appeal. "These ancient traditions are incorporated in modern jewelry from Nepal," he says. "Amulets or ritual items may also be part of the design."

Pem Sherpa and his wife on top of Mount Everest

Nepal has a stunning variation of landscapes, ranging from grasslands, to jungles, to hills, canyons, raging rivers, Himalayan Mountains, and the world's highest snow capped peaks. With over 62 unique ethnic groups, the culture is one of the most eclectic in the world, which translates into their jewelry, clothing, and social culture. "Within this rich cultural fabric, the traditions among individual ethnic groups such as clothing, food, religion, language and architecture, are each distinctly different from one another," Dorjee explains. "Nepal is almost a microcosm of the entire world."

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O'Neal actually started The Himalayan Bazaar in her garage while traveling back and forth to Nepal, bringing gifts and gear home with her to sell from her in-home store. In 2000, Dorjee and O'Neal began organizing and leading tours trekking in the Himalayas twice a year. Many years later, in 2011, Dorjee approached O'Neal about moving The Himalayan Bazaar into a Main Street shop. They've been working together ever since.

"Today, our mission is to take people around the world and bring the world around to people in Ann Arbor," explains Dorjee. "We sell fair trade gifts and gear from Nepal in the store and organize and lead trips to Nepal twice a year through our company, Of Global Interest Adventure Travel." The partners also own and operate The Himalayan Lodge, a vacation rental home near downtown Ann Arbor that is available for short term stays.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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