The Nepalese Student Association (NSA) and Indian Student Association celebrated Dashain which is a celebration of good overcoming evil.
Dashain is a holiday that spans over 15 days and observes Durga, the goddess of victory, defeating demons and liberating mankind. It’s recognized in Nepal, parts of India and Myanmar. On Sunday they held a campus event in the Munester University Center.
Monika Shrestha, the president of NSA, said the student organization wanted to open their celebration to the community because this is their most important event.
“We want to show our culture with Dashain as it is our biggest festival,” Shrestha said. “We want not just us Nepalese but people from across the world to be included here and (so) they understand the meaning of Dashain with us.”
The event started with a video explaining Dashain and why the Hindu religion celebrates it, followed by a speech from the adviser of NSA, KC Santosh.
Santosh told the crowd although the event isn’t as large as the Dashain festival in Nepal, it still is representative to the excitement of Dashain.
“(NSA) will give you a flavor of what’s happening in the Dashain festival,” he said.
Members of NSA went table to table to perform a tika ceremony. Tika is a mixture of soaked rice and Vermilion and gets put on the forehead. The ceremony is a blessing from an elder, and traditionally the elder also gives children money.
“We put tika because it basically symbolizes an elder putting blessings on young ones,” Shrestha said. “So that they can give them blessings and wish them good for their life and prosperity and health.”
Members of NSA went around the tables putting tika on all who wanted it.
Chandra M Karki, graduate chemistry student and founder of NSA, said the Dashain festival was the “happiest moment of my life here at USD.”
Karki said NSA became more recognizable to the USD community after their Holi festival last spring that gathered more than 200 students, and that helped the success of Dashain.
“That’s how people knew about NSA,” Karki said.
There were multiple performances featuring not only Nepalese culture but also songs from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. During this time traditional Nepalese food was served by Aramark that presented dishes that would typically be served during Dashain.
In Nepal, water buffalo and goat are served to represent the triumph over the demons that took form in those wild animals.
Karki said these animals “terrorized” the earth and that it was difficult for people to live. On the ninth day of Dashain is when a goddess kills the demons and that is why it is tradition to eat them.
The whole Dashain celebration is centered around peace.
“Dashain means bringing peace into the earth,” Karki said. “Tika means we’re so happy we can live in peace.”
Diwali and Dashain are very closely related as in they both celebrate the victory of good over evil. Towards the end of Dashain is when Diwali begins, and Karki said Diwali is focused on celebrating family.
“In Diwali, we celebrate more with brothers and sisters,” Karki said. “Diwali is more into family like brothers and sisters, Dashain is more like everywhere celebrating the victory; that we can live in peace.”
The next events NSA will be involved in are Holi which will be held in the spring.