Megha Subedi’s living room in southwest Fort Worth was festive this week with twinkling lights, music and singing to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.
By singing a deusure song, worshippers hope to usher in a new year of prosperity.
“Diwali is the festival of light,” said Narayan Subedi, president of the Beginners Community Support Group and a Nepali from Bhutan. He said the door to his brother’s home was open to family and friends Thursday evening as they gathered to celebrate.
Many Fort Worth Nepali started observing Diwalion Wednesday and expected to continue through dawn Saturday.
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The festival marks the victory of light over darkness and good over evil, said Narayan Subedi. It takes place under the Hindu lunar calendar and typically falls in October or November.
The festival lasts about four days and is celebrated by the Hindu, Sikh and Jain religions. Jainism is an Indian religion that advocates nonviolence. Many Hindu honor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Prayers to the goddess promote prosperity, said worshipers.
“We are trying to preserve our traditions,” said Kul Adhikari, 25, another Nepali from Bhutan.
We give blessings in our language.
Radhika Subedi, a Nepalese from Fort Worth
Fort Worth’s Nepali community includes immigrants and international students from Nepal and refugees from Bhutan who are ethnic Nepalese. Refugees from Bhutan are descendents of Nepalese who migrated to southern Bhutan decades ago and were forced out of Bhutan in the 1980s. Bhutan is in south Asia, bordered by China and India.
Nepalese, or Lhotshampas, were expelled from Bhutan in the 1980s and early 1990s, according to the federal government.
Families celebrate at local temples and in their homes. The Subedi home was decorated with carnations, festive lights and candles. After leaving work or school, many donned traditional attire from Nepal. Men put on hats called Dhaka topi. Women and girls wore colorful ethnic dresses.
An evening of singing and dancing was capped with the emergence of a bamboo tray filled with money, sweets, flowers and incense. The money is given to the host family as a sign of gratitude. It will be used to help struggling families in their community, Narayan Subedi said.
In 2006, the United States began to participate in a “large-scale” resettlement program for the ethnic Nepalese.
After celebrating in one home, the song and dance moved to the homes of other Nepalese families.
The festival is also called tihar, said Saurav Dhungana, president of the Nepalese Student Association at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Earlier this week, the student association shared the tradition by offering sel roti (a sweet ring) and chiya (sweet milk tea) to students.