Celebrating the Dashain Festival Diversely at YSU

By Nami Nagaoka

The Nepali Student Association shared their cultural concepts through an event in the Debartolo Stadium Club at Stambaugh Stadium on Oct. 21.

This event featured Nepali cultural dances, music, traditional foods, costumes, games, presentations and most importantly, a blessing.

Bikash Thapa, a sophomore computer science major, is the president of the NSA. He said Dashain is a popular festival in Hinduism which lasts for fifteen days, between late September and mid-October.

He said people celebrate various forms of gods each day during the Dashain festival. The 10th day is the blessing day called “Dashain,” when people place “tika,” a red dot, on their foreheads and “jamara,” a sacred grass, on their ears. This is the day when Hindu Nepalese people celebrate a victory over demons.

Thapa explained the legendary story that exists behind Dashain, and said the festival is usually celebrated with family members in Nepal.

“Even though we are far from home, we wouldn’t want to miss [Deshain] because everyone will be celebrating over [in Nepal],” he said.

He said the Hindu religion is a part of Nepali culture.

Thapa said it is nice to have a big Nepali population at Youngstown State University. He and the other Nepali students decided to share the tradition with students and staff who aren’t Hindu.

According to Thapa, the festivities can cause some Nepali students to feel homesick because Dashain is an event that brings family together.

Photo by Nami Nagaoka\The Jambar

“Since we are all together today, the missing part is quite less,” he said. 

Thapa was glad to see a diverse group of YSU students and staff alike gathering together for Dashain.

“This showed that [the university] cares about our festival and our culture,” he said.

Shilpa Bhandari, a sophomore undecided major and vice president of NSA, emphasized the importance of sharing her Nepali culture with loved ones from the YSU.

“When you come to a completely different world, and people accept you … that’s so beautiful,” she said.

Bhandari said she enjoyed celebrating Dashain with people from different backgrounds and cultures than she typically would in Nepal.

“No matter how we are different, we all have a common ground,” she said.

Photo by Nami Nagaoka\The Jambar

Isaiah Padilla, a freshman electrical utility technology major and Youngstown native, said this was his first experience at a cultural festival.

Padilla said it is important for everyone to experience different cultural experiences.

Nathan Myers, the provost of International Programs Office, said he is proud of all the international students’ efforts to make this event happened and it exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Myers said Dashain helped showcase the continuous growth diversity in Youngstown.

“The more different kinds of people we can have in here actually increases our own [cultural] understanding,” he said. “It’s not only fun, but it’s also good for us culturally.”