By: Aaraju Adhikari
First Dashain away from Nepal, the best time to feel homesick. The only good I could think about this year’s Dashain was thankfully, it was on a Saturday. I opened my eyes the Dashain morning and as I got off my bed, I remembered the times when I used to wake up with the aroma of fresh fini and sel roti spreading through the house. I’d be so excited to show-off my newly bought clothes and receive my dakshina. I think it probably is every Nepali’s favorite time of the year.
Dashain feels empty when you don’t get to put tika with the same people you used to, every year. When the entire family celebrates back in Nepal, sends you pictures and skypes with you, and you don’t really feel those festive vibes in this foreign land. I was so jealous of the people back in Nepal, who got their long Dashain vacation and got to travel to their hometowns and celebrated with their families and loved ones. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram certainly did not help.
Dashain is not just about “khasi ko masu” or “sel roti” or “loads of dakshina”. Most importantly, it is about being with your family and spending quality time together, exchanging stories and laughters. I missed my grandfather’s long ashirwad as he named all the Gods he could possibly remember. I missed my cousins with whom, at the end of the day, I’d count all the money we’d have gotten and see who received the most. I missed my aunt’s handmade “aloo ko achar”, which I could never get enough of.
Early in the morning, I got nostalgic and wished I was back in Nepal having my morning tea with sel roti. I really didn’t have any expectations for this Dashain out in this faraway land. The plan for the day was to visit some Nepali families and celebrate with them, which to be honest, I wasn’t very excited about. But to my surprise, people despite their busy schedule, celebrated the festival so beautifully and with all the required rituals. I could see women dressed in their traditional attires, everyone’s forehead filled with akchheta and different food items filled the large table with the tastes that reminded me of home.
As I experienced my first Dashain in America, I came to know that the Nepalese living here know how important our culture and traditions are, and value it even more, as they are away from home. The Nepali communities had even hosted Dashain parties for all the Nepalese to join in and celebrate their grandest festival, together. And it made me feel so proud to see their Dashain spirit as they presented performances depicting our diverse culture.
Maintaining your culture when moving to another country can be difficult, in particular, if you’ve been trying to immerse yourself into the new culture to adjust to your new community. But it’s important to know that just because you’re adapting to a new culture doesn’t mean you need to let go of your own. Balancing both worlds is important because your culture and traditions define who you are, and that is and always should be a part of you. Even though we’re miles and miles away from home, I hope that by teaching younger ones of Nepal’s traditions, we would be able to keep this spirit alive and it would carry on through the generations to come.