Vibrant banners of paper and glittering material adorned the walls and caught the light in the MUC ballroom. Tables were carefully arranged with utensils and decorative flowers, ready for guests.
The Nepalese Student Association (NSA) had arranged for USD’s festival of blessing on Saturday. NSA spent five weeks planning for the event, which saw 110 attendees.
In South Asian culture, Dashain is a celebration symbolizing the victory of good over evil. The celebration began in early October on the lunar fortnight, spanned across 15 days, and ended on the full moon.
Pramod Acharya, president of NSA and second-year graduate student, said Dashain was a chance to share information about Nepalese culture.
“If we do these programs,” Acharya said, “[students] can see our culture and get information.”
KC Santosh, graduate school professor of computer sciences and faculty adviser, opened the night with a speech, honoring the NSA’s effort to make this event inclusive to all of campus.
“We are aware that today we don’t have the luxury to celebrate the festival as we celebrate back home; however, the NSA brings you a clear glimpse of the festival just as it is celebrated back home,” Santosh said.
The night offered opportunities to learn and partake in Nepalese culture and tradition.
As a ritual to renew and strengthen community ties, Elders asked each person attending the event if they would like to participate in taking tika. If they wished to receive blessing, Elders placed yellow grass on their heads and spread tika, a rice, yogurt, and red dye mixture, onto their foreheads.
Cultural songs and dances were performed after NSA members served traditional Nepalese dishes, drawing audience intrigue. Acharya said he appreciated the largely interactive and joyous crowd.
Sanjay Bhattarai, vice president of NSA and third-year physics graduate student, said Dashain is an emotionally valuable event.
“The main thing is we want people to know is that this is very important to our society and we want people over here to also know that this is very near to our heart,” Bhattarai said.
Dashain is typically spent with family, Bhattarai said. Often, relatives travel great distances to enjoy blessings at home, but USD students find it difficult to make the trip when school is still in session.
Despite this, Bhattarai said he has found a new home and family in Vermillion.
“This is a time we miss our family a lot, and USD is also a family to us,” Bhattarai said. “As a member of this family, we want to celebrate with them.”