The Nepalese Student Association (NSA) was formed earlier this semester to celebrate events and create a welcoming environment to the increasing numbers of Nepalese students at USD.
Chandra Karki, NSA’s president and a senior chemistry major, planned Dashain, the group’s first event on campus.
He traveled to Miami in late September to learn about how his brother-in-law operates NSA at his university, Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
There are more than 25 Nepalese students at USD, Karki said.
“There are very few Nepalese (students) in the spring of 2016 and then this fall a lot of Nepalese came,” Karki said. “We were planning to create one organization that represents Nepalese culture as well as South Asian culture.”
The first event NSA organized was the Dashain festival on Sept. 30. Dashain is the longest festival in the Nepalese calendar – it lasts 15 days.
Karki said about 50 people attended the event.
“What we do in Dashain is we eat a lot of goat meats and we make rice red color and we put it on our forehead,” Karki said. “We also put some sort of green grass in our ears.”
Karki said the cultural significance of the red rice (Tika) and yellow-green grass (Jamara) provides “splashes of color (and) are an integral part of the festival.”
Those colors are meant as a blessing, he said.
“Without this splotch of red on everyone’s foreheads, Dashain would be, to say the least, quite bland,” Karki said.
Karki said he wants to help international students.
“When some new student from Nepal comes here, it will play a big role in their life. I feel very good if I can help people in that way,” Karki said. “We can work together to make everything better and make international students feel at home.”
Junior Nehal Adhikari, one of the founding members of NSA, said NSA needed to be created to share culture and tradition of Nepal with USD students.
“We realized we wanted to share our culture and tradition to the people in USD and also wanted people from Nepal and South Asia to feel like they are at home when they come to USD,” Adhikari, a mathematics major, said. “These are the main reasons we established NSA.”
Adhikari hopes to host at least one or two big events on campus each semester.
Karki said they’re planning to celebrate Holi next March.
“Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated in India and Nepal also known as the ‘festival of colors’ or the ‘festival of love.’ The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive and repair broken relationships,” Karki said. “It is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.”
Santosh KC, faculty advisor of NSA and assistant professor of the computer science department, said he’s like the “parent/guardian” of the organization.
KC said he worked with other Nepalese students before to form the group. He credits “energetic folks” for starting the organization.
As a native of Nepal, KC said having more diversity on campus is vital for USD.
“I always want to work on young minds and this is more special in a sense that NSA provides a clear diversity across the campus,” KC said. “Working with them to celebrate occasions across the campus through NSA (with the help of CDC, USD) is cool.”
Correction: In an earlier version of the story, The Volante incorrectly named the university Chandra Karki traveled to. The Volante regrets this error.