On Friday, Nov. 5, the International House was bright with lights as students came together to celebrate Tihar. The event was organized by the International Club and was sponsored by the International House.
Tihar is one of the biggest festivals of Nepal that usually takes place around the month of November and is celebrated for five days. It is also known as the Festival of Lights, as houses and temples are illuminated with “diyo” (oil lamps), string lights and decorated with “rangoli” (colorful patterns created on the floor) and flowers.
Each day of the Tihar holds its own significance. The first day honors crows, the second day is devoted to dogs and the third and fourth days are for cows and oxes respectively. Goddess Laxmi ,the Goddess of wealth, is also worshipped on the fourth night, and on the fifth day marks the celebration of the bond between brothers and sisters.This festival commemorates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
Dr. Andrew Vogel, the coordinator of international recruitment and retention, said the purpose of this event is to celebrate Nepali culture and to help internationalize our campus and community by learning more about the festivals. The celebration is about bringing happiness, joy and prosperity to Nepali students on campus. He added that there are around 45 Nepali students at Washburn University, which is the largest international group on campus. The community has learned a lot about Nepali culture and it’s important to help students celebrate some of the holidays, especially Tihar when they are so far away from home. He feels warmth in his heart when students thank the International Program for the event, as it makes them feel closer to family, friends and feel a little bit more at home.
“We had some traditional vegetarian Nepali dishes, and we got a fire permit and had some sparklers. We put lights all over the International House and we celebrated the largest Tihar celebration in Topeka,” Vogel said.
International students were excited to share their culture with the campus.
“Tihar for me is all about lights and marigolds and eating traditional Nepali food (Sel Roti) is the best part of the festival,” said Sumnima Limbu, a junior majoring in data analytics and finance.
For others, Tihar is about going door to door singing Deusi and Bhailo, which are traditional Tihar songs.
“We celebrate Tihar with a variety of foods, music, dance, firecrackers and lights,” said Sangya Yogi, a sophomore majoring in data analytics and finance.
Anu Jugjali Magar, a freshman from Nepal, is outside of her country for the first time. She usually has family gatherings, food, lights and firecrackers at this time of the year.
“Although I couldn’t celebrate this Tihar with my family, being able to celebrate with lots of friends, lighting sparkles was fun and a great experience,” Magar said.
Ata Balkhair, a senior majoring in law, and Junnosuke Saito, a sophomore majoring in communication, both agreed on firecrackers being the best exhibit of the event.
“I love Nepali culture. I think attending an event like this is a great way to experience different cultures” said Ahmed Alanazi, a senior majoring in business.
The International Club has been celebrating Tihar for three years at the International House.
Edited by:- Ellie Walker, Simran Shrestha