Nepal Nite celebrates heritage


Rusis, 7, performs a dance “Mai chori Sundari” at the Nepal Nite 2016, Sunday Jan. 31.

ALEX RAU News Reporter

Women and girls dressed in traditional Nepalese clothes and men dressed in suits and ties snapped pictures in the lounge of the Volstorff Ballroom while students walked past and gazed through the window. 

Roughly 500 people filled the decorated Volstorff Ballroom for the 10th  annual Nepalese Nite Sunday, Jan. 31.

The South Dakota State University Nepalese Student Association (NeSA) has hosted the longest-running cultural night on campus.

Many long nights went into planning the event.

“There was about a 15 day stretch where it seemed like we were there [at the University Lutheran Center] until midnight or later working,” Lekhnath Kafle, an executive member, said. 

The story of Nepal’s devastating earthquake was ever present. A short video showed the destruction that occurred April 2015, and Nepalese students expressed the importance of rebuilding their country. Bishnu Karki, one of the hosts for the program along with Abiral Baniya, said he was in Nepal then and was forced to leave his home because of damages. Others talked about the emotional stress they felt from the trauma.

President David Chicoine praised the group for their work and stressed the importance of showing solidarity with Nepal as they work to rebuild their country after the 2015 earthquake, a magnitude of 7.8. Speeches from Provost Nichols and Mayor Tim Reed expressed similar support.

The university is home to roughly 130 Nepalese students, mostly in graduate school. Richard Reid, associate dean of engineering, with his wife and other retired SDSU faculty members traveled to Nepal Feb. 1 in hopes of bringing even more Nepalese students to SDSU. The group will also travel to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

“We [SDSU] aren’t the most diverse school around. Most students don’t get the chance to experience that much of different cultures, through things like study abroad or whatever,” Reid said. “To bring students here [SDSU] gives them a chance to interact with different cultures which broadens a student’s education.”

Nepal is largely a Hindu country, and that is apparent in their practices and dress. Despite the country’s relatively small population of practicing Buddhists, representing 10 percent of the population, Buddhist imagery was mixed in with Hindu imagery throughout the program. A short play was written and directed by Kafle and presented with a video to showcase the story of the Buddha.

A dinner of culturally appropriate foods consisting of rice, various curries, roasted chicken and yogurt was served.

Students Kajol Kc and Sunita Pathak, said the food was a big draw for the community. The food was much more mildly spiced than Indian food which it greatly resembles.

Dances were showcased on the brightly-lit stage with performers as young as 3-year-olds. The dances consisted mostly of traditional dances to Nepalese music with the exception of a dance from young adults to both Nepalese pop songs and western songs.

Karki said NeSA is constantly trying to improve upon previous successes and to learn from their mistakes.

The event was a fantastic success and they look forward to more events to come, Baniya said.