A Bite of the World

Nepalese Student Association shares food, culture through Dashain

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BY LAURA GRIMM, grimmla@mnstate.edu

For one night, more than a hundred people were transported thousands of miles away, all while staying right here in Moorhead.

The Nepalese Student Association (NSA) invited the public to experience Dashain Night on Oct. 21 at Everest Tikka House in Moorhead.

Dashain, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, is one of the longest and largest festivals in Nepal. The event at Everest Tikka House was a small taste of this auspicious festival. It included authentic Nepali food, music and dancing.

“My main inspiration for organizing this event was like, people often call me for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner,” NSA president Ritu Pandey said. “I am invited to your festivals, so why don’t I do something and invite you?”

One of the attendees was Victoria Tinjum, a sophomore studying graphic design. Since coming to MSUM, she has become more involved in organizations that reach out to international students.

“Once you get a taste of it, you’re kind of hungry for more and learning more,” Tinjum said. “You have access right here to experience those other places and cultures and other people too.”

Pandey, a junior biology major, is more than willing to share her cultures and traditions with anyone who wants to learn more.

“Since we are here, we want to show you how we celebrate,” Pandey said. “There are a lot of Nepalese students, so we decided to have an open event that anybody can come to and see what food looks like and what we actually do.”

When guests arrived, they were greeted with a tika, which is a combination of rice and red powder that is placed on the forehead, along with a blessing. Everyone was welcome to participate regardless of religion, race or country of origin.

“I really liked that they welcomed everyone to do it, and it wasn’t just Nepali people who could do it,” Tinjum said.

This celebration also welcomed students from Concordia and NDSU. For some of these students, it was emotional to be away from their families and homes for the first time during the celebration of Dashain.

“It was a time when all of the Nepalis from MSUM were together, and there were students from Concordia and from NDSU,” Pandey said. “Some were very emotional because we can’t go home. Especially for freshmen, they were very emotional. They were sad, but then they got to see people and be happy.”

Pandey’s favorite part was meeting these students and others that she would not otherwise see at the celebration.

“Music, you can have at home. Food, you can make yourself. Your roommates, you meet every day,” Pandey said. “(My favorite part is) meeting everybody together and talking, taking pictures and collecting memories for the future.”

Tinjum enjoyed this taste of culture, and she sees value in getting to know more about the world’s various cultures. MSUM is home to students from across the globe, making this easier than ever.

“When it comes to relationships [with international students], you have more of a desire to have them once you kind of understand or accept that you don’t know everything about the world,” Tinjum said. “For me personally, I’ve definitely noticed maturity in relationships by talking and being open to talking to other people, regardless of where they’re from, and actually learning about their origin.”

For those interested in learning more about Nepal specifically, NSA is hosting Nepali Night on Nov. 10.

“Nepali Night is … how we Nepalese students as part of MSUM share our culture,” Pandey said.

Enrollment for international students is declining, and this is true for Nepalese students as well. Pandey is worried that there may not be enough Nepali students in the future to keep NSA running. While she’s here, though, it’s her mission to share her culture with the rest of MSUM.

 

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