Lafayette, Louisiana has several "Sister City" agreements. Two are in France (Le Cannet and Poiteirs), another with Moncton, New Brunswick in Canada, and Namur in Belgium.

"Sister Cities" are agreements between foreign cities to form a social or legal agreement between two geographically and politically distinct cities in order to promote cultural and commercial ties. There are plenty of reasons for them, but they're mostly just fun little cultural and social agreements.

The city of Newark, New Jersey, apparently thought it would be a great idea to establish a "Sister City" agreement with a city in the United States of Kailasa (USK), and the city's leadership was hard at work to make it happen.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka pushed hard for the partnership, and it was eventually passed and even got a ceremony to celebrate the partnership - only to discover no such nation exists.

Via News12 in New Jersey:

Newark officials apparently thought they were getting involved in a cultural and trade deal with one of India’s emerging independent Hindu nations. But in reality, Kailasa is fake.
“I think that’s embarrassing. He didn’t do his background research before entertaining that,” says Newark resident D.J. Simon.
A spokesperson for the Newark mayor’s office tells News 12 that as soon as they learned of the circumstances, they immediately took action to cancel the sister city agreement. It was almost a week later when they discovered everything was a lie.

But the story gets even more bizarre: The USK is not only not a country, it's a con being run by a self-proclaimed Indian refugee and self-styled "godman."

What Is the United States of Kailasa?

The Hindu "nation" was declared established by a man known as Nithyananda, an Indian refugee. He was a Hindu priest, but following charges of rape and abduction, he fled India. He has remained in hiding since 2019.

Recently, he claimed to be developing an airport for aliens.

Kailasa has no official territory, though there were at one point rumors that Nithyananda had purchased land off the coast of Ecuador and was using that to establish his nation. However, Ecuadoran authorities have since said no such land purchase ever happened.

It gets even weirder from there. Nithyananda launched the Reserve Bank of Kailaasa in August 2020, and released its official gold currency, the Kailashian dollar. He also announced that travel to his "island nation" would be available for those seeking to visit him. They would need to travel to Australia and then travel via private charter.

Travel to Kailasa was "suspended" during the COVID-19 pandemic, the religious leader announced.

Newark's Commitment to Diversity

Following the agreement with a fake country, Newark is understandably embarrassed, but they are also committed to staying on track to promote diverse cultures and peoples.

"Although this was a regrettable incident," City Hall said in a statement, "the city of Newark remains committed to partnering with people from diverse cultures in order to enrich each other with connectivity, support, and mutual respect."

The city insists that no money changed hands as part of the agreement. Still, just days after the agreement was signed, the city council rescinded it.

"This is an oversight, cannot happen any longer," City Councilman Luis Quintana said at the time.

"Whose job was it to do a simple Google search," Newark resident Shakee Merritt asked in an interview with CBS News. "No one in City Hall, not one person did a Google search, so maybe we need a transformation of City Hall 'cause not one person said, let me go and Google and figure out this was a fake city."

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