Nepalise group shares culture on campus

By Gus Bode

Women wrapped in traditional sari cloths and men dressed in their traditional Nepalese attire and topi hats united around the shrine Saturday to start the celebration of Durga Puja.

Home is a long way to travel for the Nepalese students on campus, so a little of Nepal was brought to Carbondale’s Interfaith Center Saturday, thanks to the Nepalese Student Society. The day marked the celebration of the goddess Durga’s victory over evil in the Hindu religion.

Shaily Thapa, a senior in social work from Nepal, said living in country far from home is difficult, but being able to celebrate this special day with her friends at the University makes home seem not so far away.


“It’s sad that we can’t go home,” Thapa said. ” If we didn’t have anything at all, I’d be depressed.”

Nepal is a small country nestled between India and China that is about 300 years old. In Nepal, 86 percent of the population practices Hinduism. The Hindu religion is distinguished as one of the oldest of religions in the world and is defined by the belief in reincarnation and unity.

Nepal is noted for its unique landscape, which has the Himalaya Mountain Range on its northern borders and plains and forests in the south. While Saturday’s event couldn’t bring the images of home, it brought a rich practice of culture and religion to Carbondale.

“It gives me a feeling of being home,” Thapa said.

If families in the United States are considered big, she said, Nepal families are gigantic, with everyone joining in during times of celebration.

In fact, the hardest thing for Archana Pande was leaving her family, and this time of the year makes her miss them even more.

“They wanted me to be in Nepal,” Pande said. “Ultimately, after a few years, I will go back.”


Julia Smythe, a senior in elementary education, admitted that until a few months ago she knew nothing of the Nepalese culture, but was surprised by the love the Nepalese have for friends and family.

“I thought I was close to my family,” Smythe said. “The strong ties and bonds the Nepalese people have are amazing. It makes me feel like family.”

Dipendra Lamichhane, president of the Nepalese Student Society, said while he misses his family, they are positive about him not being in Nepal, which is experiencing civil turmoil.

“Our parents are happy because we’re out of the country,” Lamichhane said.

However, Lamichhane said fewer international students are coming to the University because the tuition has increased. International students pay 2.5 times more in tuition than students from the United States.

It is unfortunate, he said, because the University has a history in Nepal, whose current leader is an alumni.

“Half are graduating, then there will be 10 left,” Lamichhane said. “After the ones graduating, no one is coming because of tuition hikes.”

But the cloud of tuition increase did not stop the celebration of the students that attended the event in the Interfaith Center.

The night started out with a prayer and an offering to the goddess. Following prayer was Tikka, a vibrant red mixture of powder and rice that was placed on the foreheads of those celebrating.

“Someone brought it from home,” Thapa said about the powder they used to make the Tikka.

Bhutan, mutton curry and aloo cali are just a few items that were on the night’s menu, all traditional Nepalese foods. Food from Nepal is well known for being very spicy and hot, but the hosts of the event toned down the spice to accommodate guests not used to the food.

The event ended with everyone, even 6-year-old Ragyie Rawal, dancing the night away to traditional Nepalese folk music.

“I was missing my family so much, but today I feel like I am in Nepal,” Pande said.