Almost a year after the devastating earthquakes that nearly flattened a world capital, SCSU students and members of the St. Cloud community gathered in Ritsche Auditorium to celebrate a culture that has undergone the struggle of rebuilding.
In April 2015, over 8 million people were rocked when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the capital, Kathmandu. An estimated 2.8 million Nepalese were displaced, and over 130,000 houses were destroyed in the chaos.
The earthquake was felt around the globe, including SCSU. The school has a large number of international students from Nepal who had friends and family affected by the natural disaster. Taking up arms, the Nepal Student Association has spent the past year collaborating with the Red Cross to raise money for families whose homes were destroyed in the quake. The night was not only a celebration of culture, but a commemoration to those who have dedicated their time to helping the country of Nepal.
Despite the somber undertones, the night was alive with color and dance. Attendees were treated to different styles of Nepalese dance, cuisine and music. The night was jump-started with the Maruni Dance — the oldest dance performed in the eastern part of Nepal, where students on stage were dressed in colorful saris and jewelry. As dancers’ feet began picking up the pace, so did the audience’s cheers and whistles. Every time the curtain was raised, a new set of performers appeared on stage with a new wardrobe and a new song.
NSA board member and performance coordinator Aayusha Duldher was wrapped in gold and pink when she took center stage. Performing in the traditional dances, Duldher’s favorite part was seeing the audience participate in the performance.
“It’s really great to see so many people here,” she said. “We get people who don’t even know the songs coming and dancing and singing along.”
The night was made extra-extravagant as this year was the 21st anniversary of Nepal Night. The students involved in the culture night worked for months on the lineup for the show, having paid special attention to the finale: the famous Nepalese band Albatross.
The night ended in a blaze of cheers and screams as the band lit up the stage with fast-paced beats and catchy lyrics. Looking back on the night, NSA President Thundup Tamang is happy about the turnout and relieved that everything went smoothly.
“The most difficult part is getting everyone together at the same time to plan,” he said.
The hard work of coordinating and directing paid off, as the audience left the auditorium with smiling faces and a newfound knowledge of the Nepalese culture. The NSA board is proud to teach people about the country’s heritage, and excited to see people participate in the celebration of another culture.
“Culture nights are special,” Tamang said. “They give everyone a sense of community and acknowledge our culture, so no one feels alone.”
There was no time for the audience to feel alone throughout the night, as laughing commentators and hosts shortened the time between performances with good-natured jokes and uplifting stories. Their humor set a laid-back tone for the night as the guests lined up to leave the auditorium for the Atwood ballroom where volunteers were helping serve traditional Nepalese dishes. The menu ranged from savory to sweet, including the popular chicken curry, and the less-known desert gulab jamun.
Tony Ruppert, a political science student at SCSU, enjoyed the exotic cuisine and the glimpse into Nepalese culture.
“[I] think it’s a great idea to introduce new cultures to the campus,” he said. “It’s always good to see international students share their ideas and heritage.”
With a grand opening that included a lighting ceremony and Nepal national anthem, attendees got to experience every aspect of the small nation. The slogan of the night was “Glimpse of Nepal through its window.” The dancers and performers acted as small windows into a rich history of color and music.
Nepal Night went late into the night, ending in the cheers of a diverse and excited crowd. The goal of the culture night was to entertain and inspire students to take interest in another culture, but the performances stood as testaments to the beauty and resilience of Nepal. The culture night was more than a celebration of culture, but a reminder of the tragedy that rocked the world and the hope of a better future.