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South Salt Lake Journal

From Nepal to Utah: Nepali women embrace a traditional celebration

Oct 01, 2022 08:41PM ● By Jesse M. Gonzalez

By Jesse M. Gonzalez | [email protected]

On Aug. 20, the Columbus Center auditorium held the annual Nepali Women’s Festival—teej. 

Teej refers to a Hindu festival predominantly celebrated by women in India and Nepal, typically to welcome the monsoon season and to receive blessings for marriage from the Hindu goddess Parvati and her husband Shiva. Teej is also celebrated to strengthen the well-being of the husband and children.

The event was equipped with an ample amount of food and activities, ranging from Nepalese traditional dancing to singing, prayer and theatre performances.

Hundreds of Nepali women and men shared the auditorium in an atmosphere reminiscent of their country’s culture. The event began with a welcome speech by Tek Neopany, director of Community Building Services, and Aman Karki, speaking in their native language, introducing themselves as well as everyone who would be performing for the night.  

Nepal is considered by many to be one of the friendliest countries, and the good-natured genuineness of some of its people who currently live in South Salt Lake could be felt and appreciated by anyone not totally familiar with their tradition.

“It’s not home, I miss my home, but still it’s good,” said Renuka Khanal, who had spoken earlier on stage about the concept of teej. Khanal has only been living in the United States for five years, and now she is celebrating her cultural festival in fashion, wearing an intricately woven and patterned red sari, which is traditionally worn by women in Nepal as well as in other South Asian countries. The color red specially signifies luck for married women in Nepali tradition during teej, though it can be worn by others as well.

More people gathered inside of the auditorium as families socialized with other families, and everyone’s attention turned to the dances and the fashion show which consisted of dresses in different styles.

“We celebrate all of our festivals together like this. We have a small community here (in Utah). This festival, we celebrate all the things in this community. We celebrate that we’re legal here (in the United States),” said Khanal.

Neopany said this was the second year of celebration here with support from the nonprofit organization Community Building Services. According to their webpage, their aim is to create opportunities in arts, culture, education, capacity building and health and wellness for the enhancement and well-being of the underserved ethnic individuals and families promoting healthy neighborhoods.