Did you know…

Dashain, the longest and most anticipated Nepali festival, begins October 5th?

This fifteen day national holiday for the Hindu goddess, Durga, and her victory over a powerful demon is a celebration of good over evil and a time of family gatherings and community renewal.

Bir Bhandari, a Bhutanese refugee from Nepal, who likes to self-identify now as a “Bhutanese-American,” was five years old when his family left Bhutan for Nepal where he spent eighteen years before being resettled in Sioux Falls along with members of his family.  He currently is a student at USD, studying Health Science with hopes of becoming a Physician’s Assistant or a Bio-Medical Engineer.  Along with his academic studies and job as a Nepali interpreter, he volunteers at LSS Refugee and Immigration Center most often in the Job Interview Classes motivated by a desire “to help people in any way I can.”

Bir working with fellow Bhutanese refugees from Nepali in Job Interview Class
Bir working with fellow Bhutanese refugees from Nepali in Job Interview Class

Recently, Bir answered some questions for me about Dashain.

What does the celebration of Dashain involve?

“All Hindu people celebrate Dashain.  In Nepal it is a public holiday with all government buildings and shops being closed for around two weeks.  Dashain celebrates the goddess’ victory over the demons.  People celebrate with ‘tika,’ receiving the blessing from elders in the family, wearing new clothes, and eating meat.”

How is celebrating Dashain in Sioux Falls different than celebrating Dashain in Nepal?

“There are some cultural barriers here.  We are the minority people here.  All the people in Nepal celebrate Dashain…everyone enjoys Dashain.  It is like the Christmas holiday in America…everyone celebrates Christmas and businesses are closed.  Celebrating Dashain here is different because our people have to work and have other daily activities during these two weeks…they can’t celebrate as much as they would like.”

Elders putting tika  Photo courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons
Elders putting tika
Photo courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons

For more information about Dashain, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasain

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