The Nepali Students Association came together Friday at the Baptist Campus Ministry to celebrate one of its most auspicious holidays, Dashain.
To Americans, Dashain is the equivalent of Christmas. While Christmas is normally only celebrated for one day, Dashain is observed for 15 days.
The celebration that took place last week was called Bijaya Dashami, which takes place on the 10th day and is the most important day of the holiday. During this celebration, the Nepali students partook of authentic Nepali foods, showcased dances and music, and celebrated cultural traditions that brought various attendees together.
The evening began with an overall explanation of the holiday. The celebration of Dashain focuses on the fight between good and evil. It is during this time that the goddess Durga (good) and the demon Mahishasura (evil) fight until evil is conquered. The story of the god Ram’s victory over the devil king Ravan is also cited.
Priyanka Sharma, a freshman computer science major from Kathmandu, Nepal, presented the story of Dashami and the traditions involved. “The main thing that we do is put on tika, which is what we did tonight,” she said. “It is the blessing of a senior to the younger ones. I had a great time presenting and (enjoyed) the food, of course. I was missing the food.”
During the festivities in Nepal, people will partake in dancing, eating, card playing and kite flying. While gambling and card playing may be frowned upon in some cultures, the Nepalese keep all of the money earned during these games within the family and, therefore, are only having fun.
After the introduction of the story, native Nepali songs and dances were performed. The final act that took place before dinner was the adorning of the tika, which is rice seeds mixed with red coloring put on the forehead of each Nepali student and the guests.
Because the act of placing the tika is an honor reserved for elders, Darlene Schmurr-Stewart, dean of international student services, was in charge of giving out the tika.
The final event of the night was dinner that included authentic Nepali dishes prepared by the students. Once the dinner concluded, students were invited to stay and participate in the traditional dances.
For the students from Nepal, this event was an essential experience that reminded them of times spent at home as well as provided them a chance to bond with other Nepali students and come together in festivity.
“It is the biggest festival of Nepal,” said freshman computer science major Sahil Hamal from Kathmandu, Nepal, who is the current president for the Nepali Students Association. “It can’t get any bigger than this. It’s good to have this kind of event, and I would like to thank everyone who attended.”
This event also proved a great way to merge the Nepali culture with that of American and other international students, as the attendees were from all diverse backgrounds.
“I think the event was wonderful,” said Cesar Jauregui, a senior broadcast journalism major from Pell City. “Not only was it culturally rich, it was just fun. Even though we don’t necessarily understand, I think it’s an eye-opening experience how it means a lot to them to be able to share and be a part of that fellowship.”
Jauregui, who is also the president of the International Student Cultural Organization, said that he hopes more students will attend events like this because this will broaden the horizons of his fellow Trojans.