NLA University CollegeChallenges of the Immigrants from Nepal in Norway
in Observing Nepalese Cultural Festivals
Master in Intercultural Studies
NLA University College
Supervised by: Professor Dr. Line Alice Ytrehus
Date: 18 June 2018
List of Acronyms
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Dedication ………………………………………………………………………………………iAcknowledgement .………………………………………………………………..………….iii
Lists of Acronyms……………………………………………………………………………..iv
Table of contents……………………………………………………………………………………..v
Chapter One INTRODUCTION
Background of the study
Objective and Importance of the Study
Scope and Limitation of the Study
Nepal and Nepalese Cultural Festivals
National Culture of Nepal
Importance of Festivals for Nepalese People
Nepalese immigration trend in Norway
Nepalese Organizations observing festivals in Norway
Chapter Two METHODOLOGY
Justification for Choosing Qualitative Methodology
Research Design …………………………………………………………………………
Validity and Reliability of the Research
Chapter Three THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES
Prospect on Immigration and Identity
Relevant approaches of Identity
Cultural and Ethnic Identity
Intercultural Theories related to the research
Chapter Four OBSERVING FESTIVALS IN NEPAL AND NORWAY
4.1. Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………..
4.2.1. What is Dashain and how is it celebrated in Nepal
4.2.2. Celebration of Dashain in Norway
4.3.1. What is Indra-Jatra and how is it celebrated in Nepal
4.3.2. Celebration of Indra-Jatra in Norway
4.4. Mha-PujaduringTihar festival
4.4.1. What is Mha-Puja and how is it celebrated in Nepal
4.4.2. Celebration of Mha-Puja in Norway
4.5. Other Nepalese festivals celebrated in Norway
4.6. Summary and Conclusion of the Chapter
Chapter Five GENERAL INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS
5.1. Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………..
5.2. Issues of Preserving Cultural and National Identity
5.2.1. Concerns of teaching the Nepalese cultural to next generation
5.2.2. Small Number of Nepalese immigrants in Norway
5.2.3. Nepalese immigrants with different backgrounds and Cultural tolerance
5.2.4. Presence of Nepalese organizations for facilitation
5.3. Significance of Family in observing the festivals
5.4. Political Issue related to challenges of observing festivals
5.5. Different Circumstances between Norway and Nepal
5.6. Aspects of Religion, Ethnicity and Cultural backgrounds
5.7. Daily life style of Nepalese Immigrants in Norway
5.7.1. Challenges of Time management
5.7.2. Limited Celebration
5.8. Summery and Conclusion of the Chapter
Chapter Six CONCLUSION6.1. Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………..
6.2. Summary ……………………………………………………
6.2.1. Circumstances of celebrating the Nepalese cultural festivals in Norway……
6.2.2. Adjustment and modification in the way of celebration of the festivals in abroad………………………………………….
6.2.3. Importance of Observing Festivals in abroad ……………
6.3. Implications and Recommendations …………………………………………………
6.4. Chapter Summary ……………………………………………………………………….
Appendix-1: Recommendation from NSD …………………………………………..
Appendix-2: Interview Guides ………………………………..
Appendix-3: Research Information for the Participants and Consent Form ……….
Appendix-4: Pictures …
Background of the study
Comparing with the world’s geographic area and the population, Nepal is a small country. It is a tiny South-Asian nation which is broadly observed as one of the most religiously harmonious place in the world (Poudel, 2014). Even with multi-religious features, Nepal is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual diverse nation. There are 100 officially recognized ethnic groups who speak 92 languages within its 56,827 square mile territory (Upadhayaya, 2011). The distinct ethnic/caste groups who have been living side by side over the last 1500 years, maintaining separate yet related cultural traditions which are collectively known as “Nepali culture” today (Mishra, 2005). The Nepalese people observe many cultural festivals in Nepal. The festivals are usually based on the religions and culture. Increasing number of Nepalese, especially the youth, are seeking better opportunities abroad. Over half of all Nepali households have at least one migrant family member currently abroad or living in Nepal as a returnee. (IOM, 2018) In this context, Norway is the one of the destinations of the immigrants for study or for work. According to Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), the population of the Nepalese Immigrants in Norway is so little. In this context, the research is focused to the circumstances related to observing Nepalese festivals by the Nepalese immigrants in Norway. The objective of the research is to recognize the challenges of the Nepalese immigrants in order to observe the festivals in Norway. (NRNA, 2017)
Aim and Research Question
This research aims to give an overview of the challenges of the Nepalese immigrants to observe Nepalese cultural Festivals in Norway. It is supposed that the research describes their way of observing the Nepalese festivals, further this study describes about the various challenges faced by these immigrants in order to observe the festivals. This research can give the overview of how the identity of Nepalese immigrants is negotiated through observing the cultural festivals in the diverse Norwegian society. At this point, the main research question is ‘What are the challenges of the immigrants from Nepal for observing their cultural festivals in Norway?’
The specific questions of the research are:
Do immigrants from Nepal observe their Nepalese cultural festivals in Norway? What are the circumstances that made them difficult or easy to celebrate the festivals in abroad (Norway)?
How are Nepalese festivals celebrated among Nepalese in Norway? To understand the challenges, it is necessary to know how the central festivals actually are celebrated both in Norway and in Nepal.
Do the immigrants modify the way of observing festivals? Do the circumstances of Norway affect the way of observing festivals?
What is the significance of observing the festivals?
Scope and Limitation of the Study
As an empirical researcher, I observed the cultural festivals in Oslo and Bergen, the two main cities of Norway. The main rational for choosing these cities is that Oslo is the capital of the Norway and majority of the Nepalese immigrants live there. And Bergen is accessible because the university where I have been studying is situated there. Furthermore, in the cities, there are some active Nepalese organizations which have been organizing different events for the promotion of observing Nepalese cultural festivals.
For the execution of the research procedure, qualitative research method is chosen as a research method. As research tools interviews and observations are used during the research. Due to time constraint and budget, the scope of the study is limited to these two cities. Even though the numbers of informants are limited to 7 persons, I tried to collect as much as information about their background, the way they observe the festivals, the challenges they faced for observing the festivals and their views on the importance and impact of observing the festivals in Norway. I tried to include representatives from various social categories, such as gender, caste, ethnic group, religion so that the research can be more inclusive. I have also observed the several events in Norway related to the Nepalese festivals. Most of the events were organized by the Nepalese organizations active in Oslo and Bergen. I took interviews with some of the leaders of the organizations in order to get the information about the organization and the activities they organized.
Significance and Relevance of the Research
As the main aim of the research is to identify the challenges of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway to observe their cultural festivals, the research is important to recognize the circumstances that made the Nepalese immigrants difficult or easy to observe their cultural festivals in Norway. The research is significance to know the activities of the Nepalese immigrants related to observing festivals in Norway. At the same time, the research can be supportive to understand the circumstances of Norway that affect the way of observing the festivals. Similarly, the research can reveal the meaning to Nepalese immigrants in Norway for observing the festivals. The research will be helpful to understand the practise of intercultural communication by the Nepalese immigrants in Norway and their recognition in the diverse Norwegian Society. It is expected that the research report will be reference to the governments and the stakeholders of Nepal and Norway in regard to observing Nepalese cultural festivals in Norway. Similarly, this research also can be a resource for those who want to explore about the activities related some central cultural festivals of Nepal because some details of the festivals are also included in the research. In general, the findings of the research can be helpful to those who seek more insight into the challenges of observing Nepalese festivals in Norway or in abroad.
Introductory Contextual Presentation
Some key information of Nepal and Nepalese cultural festivals relating to the research is presented here as introductory contextual presentation. It is expected that the detail will facilitate the readers and give impression them for easy understanding of the research study. The topics are presented as important background information to analyze the main body of the research. The brief discussions on Nepal and Nepalese cultural festivals, Nepalese immigration trend in Norway and Nepalese organizations in Norway are presented as contextual topics.
Nepal and Nepalese Cultural Festivals
Nepal is a small, landlocked country which is famous for the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest. It is also known as the birthplace of Lord Buddha. According to the latest data of the World Bank, the population of Nepal is 28.98 million in 2016. After a decade-long armed insurgency ended in 2006, on 28th May 2008, during its first session, the Constitutional Assembly (CA) declared Nepal as a secular republic. After nearly a decade, on 20 September 2015, the first President of the Republic Nepal, Mr. Ram BaranYadab declared the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal 2015 transforming the Republic of Nepal into a federal state. About the geographical detail author, Krishna P. Bhattrai mentioned in his book ‘Nepal’ that geographically, Nepal is situated on the lap of the Himalayas, in southern Asia. It is bound by the Tibetan Autonomous Region (China) to the north and by India to the east, south, and west. The country shares a 746 mile (1,200 kilometres) boundary with China and 1,119 miles (1,800 kilometres) with India. Roughly rectangular in shape, Nepal extends about 550 miles (885 kilometres) from east to west and about 120 miles (193 kilometres) north to south. It is one of the world’s land locked countries and lacks a water route to the sea.’ According to the climate, weather and the geographic altitude and variances, Nepal is divided in main three parts. They are Himal (Mountainous Area/ Upper land), Pahad (Hilly Area/ Middle Land) and Terai (Plane Area/ Low land). Nepal has its own sovereign political identity. It has never been colonized by any country or under any empirical state in the past. (Bhattrai, 2008)
Moreover, according to the latest Nepal Census Report, 2011, 81.3% of the Nepalese population is Hindu, 9.0% is Buddhist, 4.4% is Muslim, 3.0% is Kiratist (indigenous ethnic religion), 1.4% is Christian, 0.2% is Sikhs, 0.1% is Jains and 0.6% follow other religions or no religion. (CBS, 2012)
There are many festivals observed in Nepal. One prominent Nepal website (www.nepalhomepage.com) lists some 35 festivals. The data indicates that there are many festivals observed in Nepal. There are different ethnic groups in Nepal. Most of the festivals are based on the religions and some of the festivals belong to the particular ethnic group. They have their own belief, culture and tradition. And they observe the festivals based on their religion and culture.
Some of the major festivals of Nepal are discussed briefly below:
Dashain is the greatest Hindu festival which is celebrated in the month of September/October. During the festival, the goddess Durga is worshiped and the family members are gathered and enjoy with the delicious food and sharing well wishes or blessings to each others. It is very popular and the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar. It is also celebrated by many Hindus elsewhere. The festival runs for 15 days. All government offices, educational institutions and other offices in Nepal remain closed during the festival period.
Tihar is the festival of lights, which is celebrated for 5 days, and it is regarded as the second greatest festival of Hindus. In the festivals crows, dogs and cows are also worshiped as gods. During the festival the fourth day, Laxmi-Puja is observed worshiping goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) and fifth day Vai-tika is celebrated as the festival for brother and sister. Tihar is also known as festival of lights since the city and the houses are decorated with lights beautifully.
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated paying tribute to God Shiva. This is an incredible spectacle, with devotees paying tribute to Lord Shiva by smearing their bodies in ashes. Yogis and jogis are the events and shows of the day in Pashupatinath. The worships are performed throughout the night. It last in the end of February or early March.
Teej is specially celebrated by the Hindu women wishing their husband’s longer life. The women take fast for a whole day. And worship lord Siva. They sing and dance and go to the temple together with the women groups on that day. The festival is observed in August or September.
Chhath is the festival specially celebrated by the people of Terai region. It is the festival worshiping sun. The devotees take fast and go to the lake or pond for worshiping the morning sun. The festival lasts in August or in September.
Nava Barsha is the official new year of Nepal. The era is called Bikram sambat. All the Nepalese people with enthusiasm and joy equally celebrate it. They gather with the friend and family enjoy the day. It is in the late March or beginning of April.
Maghe Sankranti is the Nepalese festival in which people take holy bathing and the mother of the house wishes the better health of the family member. Special food like ghee, laddoo and sweet potatoes are taken as the meal. It is celebrated within the family. It lasts in mid of January.
Udhauli is the festival of Kirant community. It is the public festival. They gather in the community and celebrate with dancing and singing and having their traditional food.
Budhha Jayanti is the festival specially celebrated by the Buddhist on the occasion of the birth and enlightenment of Lord Budhha. It is in the full moon day of May.
Holi is the festival of colours and sweets. People throw/put water and colours to each other. It is celebrated in Terai region day after celebrated in other parts of Nepal. It is also known as Fagu Purnima. ‘On the festival day, people clean their homes, remove all dirty articles from around the house and burn them. Disease-breeding bacteria are thereby destroyed. The sanitary condition of the locality is improved. During the festival, boys dance about in the streets. People play practical jokes with passers-by. A bonfire is lit towards the conclusion of the festival (Sivananda, 1997).
Nepalese immigration trend in Norway
According to the Norwegian government’s statistic data ‘Population of immigrants in Norway has been consistently on the rise over the last decade. The increasing number of immigrants can vividly observe in the capital city, Oslo which is the most populous city in the country with the highest inflow of immigrants. The number of immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents grew by 43,200 in 2015, which is the lowest percentage growth since 2006. Asylum seekers who have not yet been granted a residence permit in Norway are not registered as residents in the population register, and thus not included in the statistics. Immigrants accounted for 13.4 percent of the total population in Norway as per 1 January 2016, while Norwegian-born to immigrant parents accounted for 2.9 percent. These two groups have a background from 223 different countries and independent regions’ (SSB, 2016). Along with the immigrants the children from the immigrant parents are also rising consistently. The immigrants are from many countries. The immigrants in Norway are from different nationality and they possess the different backgrounds of culture identity.
According to the official website of NRNA, Norway, the history of Nepali people living in Norway goes back to more than 40 years ago; however, most of the Nepalese living in Norway today has come to Norway in the last 10 years. Since it is not that easy to know the exact number of people with Nepalese origin living in Norway, it has been estimated that there are between 1500 to 2000 Nepalese living in different parts of Norway. It is based on the information provided by different Nepalese societies in Norway. Majority of the Nepalese, who come to Norway, are still students because Norway has been an attractive country for higher education for several reasons. Among them who are already settled here, many of them are holding high professional jobs such as engineers, doctors, nurses, professors, financial experts, researchers, government jobholders etc (NRNA, 2017).
Nepalese Organizations in Norway
As a researcher, I have observed the research related activities organized by the Nepalese organizations in Norway. I have been observing the events as empirical participatory researcher. Mainly, Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), Norway and Nepali Bergen Society (NEBERS) and Nepalese Students Community in Oslo (NESCO) were chosen in order to research their activities regarding organizing Nepalese festivals in Norway. The organizations are established for the welfare of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway and they also work for preserving Nepalese culture in Norway.
There are some genuine reasons to choose NRNA, Norway, Norway and NEBERS and NESCO to do research on their activities regarding organizing Nepalese festivals in Norway. NRNA, Norway is a registered social organization in Norway and it is considered as an umbrella organization of all Nepalese in Norway. Beside the welfare of the Nepalese community in Norway, it has been organizing different activities to preserve the Nepalese culture. The main reason I chose the organization is the main office of the organization is in Oslo which is the largest city and capital of Norway. And most of the Nepalese population and the most of the activities of the organization are cantered in Oslo. NEBERs is the only Nepalese organization in Bergen. Since my university is in Bergen, it is easier for me to work with the local organization in Bergen. And I noticed that NEBERS has been organizing some activities to celebrate the Nepalese festivals in Bergen. Likewise, NESCO is a students’ organization in Oslo and the organization is frequently organizing several events in Oslo for the celebration of the Nepalese festivals.
Since few years, the organizations have been organizing events on the occasions of Dashain festival. Along with the programs on Dashian the organizations are also organizing different events on the occasion of different Nepalese festivals. Such as: in Tihar festival, in Teej festival, in Nepali New year.
There are also some other Nepalese immigrants’ organizations in Norway to support Nepalese; they organize some occasional events related to the education, cultural, sports, politics etc. Helping Hands for Nepal, Norway (HHN), Janasamparka Samiti Norway (JSN), Overseas Nepali Forum-ONF, Nepalese Portuguese Society (NEPOS), Nepali Society in Ås, Sadvav Samuha Norway, , Norwayand Nepalese Society in Trondheim (NEST) are some examples of the Nepalese organization in Norway.
This outline aims to give the readers an overview of the dissertation and for those who seeks the selective subject matter. This thesis is structured into the six chapters. The first chapter presents the research introduction. In the chapter, along with the background of the study, aim and research question the scope and limitation of study and significance and relevance of the research are also presented.
The brief presentations of contextual issues are discussed in this first chapter so that it will facilitate the readers and give impression for easy understanding to go through the research study. As contextual issues, the brief discussions on Nepal and Nepalese cultural festivals, Nepalese immigration trend in Norway and Nepalese organizations in Norway are presented. Similarly, for understanding of the structure of this thesis, the outline of dissertation is mentioned in this chapter. The second chapter basically deals with the overview of what methodology is used by the researcher. This chapter justifies why the qualitative research method is chosen as a research method. The chapter describes the research design in brief and also introduced the data collection tools during the research. Observation and Interview are presented as the main data collection tools. The research method used to carry out this study is focus on the empirical observation of the festival observed in Norway and individual interviews where there is the interaction between the participants as important as the discussion of the topic. The ethical consideration and researcher’s effort to ensure validity and reliability is also included in this section.
Chapter three is the presentation of the conceptual perspectives based on which, the research is carried out. The chapter presents the main concepts of prospects on immigration and identity. The research relevant approaches of identity such as national identity, cultural and ethnic identity, religious identity are discussed in the chapter. Besides that the intercultural theories related to the research are also briefly discussed in the chapter. The fourth chapter describes in detail some of the important Nepalese festivals in Nepal and Norway. The aim of the chapter is to examine how some of the important Nepalese festivals are celebrated in Norway comparing how the festivals are celebrated in Nepal with its religious and cultural context. In the chapter, three important Nepalese festivals: Dashain, Indra-Jatra and Mha-Puja are chosen for describing and comparing. The sources of the discussions and comparison are empirical observations, interviews and publications related to the topic.
Chapter five is presented as an analysis of the individual interviews for this research. As a tool of the research interviews were taken to 7 informants. Analyzing the interviews the consequences are presented as general interpretation of the findings of the research. Issues of preserving cultural and national identity; significance of family in observing the festivals; political issue related to challenges of observing festivals; aspects of religion, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds and daily life style of Nepalese immigrants in Norway are the main highlights of the chapter. The contexts are discussed as critical consequences while observing the Nepalese festivals in Norway. The final, sixth chapter presents the conclusion of the research, findings and discussions. The researcher has also suggested the implications of research with some of recommendations to the related institutions and authorities in this section.
This chapter is an overview of what methodology is used for the research. This chapter justifies why the qualitative research method is chosen as a research method. The chapter describes the research design in brief and also introduced the data collection tools during the research. Observation and interview methods are presented as the main data collection tools. The research method used to carry out this study is focus on the relevant activities to the Nepalese festivals observed in Norway. The ethical consideration and researcher’s effort to ensure validity and reliability is also included in this chapter. Likewise, in order to explain the association of the researcher to research area and the informants, the topic, Situatedness is also included in this chapter.
2.2. Justification for Choosing Qualitative Methodology
The universe of the research is the population of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway. The research is descriptive and it is focused to find out the challenges of Nepalese immigrants in Norway in observing Nepalese cultural festivals. In order to obtain the genuine findings through this research, the deep views and opinions are required from the targeted research group. To understand the descriptive and detail about the Nepalese immigrants are integrated in the Norwegian society and the factors that affected them to celebrate Nepalese cultural festivals, I find qualitative research is the best method to follow.
According to Miller and Dingwall qualitative research describes and analyses the process through which social realities are constructed and the social relationship through which people connected to one another. (Miller and Dingwall, 1997) So, since my research focus is about the social phenomenon related to the Nepalese immigrants in Norway the qualitative research method is suitable to employ.
According to Silverman, in qualitative research, there is no such thing as a format for the standard scientific paper. (Silverman, Devid 2011) While doing qualitative research, researcher analyses the things according to what s/he hears, sees, perceives and learns during the fieldwork. And the information is used to analyze later and justify the research questions.
Comparing qualitative and quantitative methods Maxwell says that Qualitative and quantitative methods are not simply doing the same things differently; they have different logic and strengths. They are used to address different themes, questions and requirements. Applying inductive approach is the main strength of qualitative method, which focuses on specific situation and people, and its emphasis goes on words rather than numbers. (Maxwell, Joseph A. 2005) In fact, qualitative research gather the information about how and why rather than when, where and what. Maxwell further mentioned the five major aspects of qualitative method while doing the research. It is appropriate to :i) understanding the meaning; ii) understanding the particular context; iii) identifying unanticipated phenomenon and influences and generated new-grounded theories; iv) understanding the processes by which events and actions take place; and v) developing casual explanation. In the context of this research, as this research tries to explore the way of living of Nepalese immigrants in relation to observing festivals and analyzed the events of festivals, the thought of Maxwell corresponding to use the qualitative research methodology.
Considering all these nature and importance of qualitative research method, I preferred to use this method as my research tool. Through this method, I try to gain information about the challenges of the Nepalese immigrants while observing their cultural festivals in Norway.
2.3. Research Design
Research design is the layout of the research. Research design provides as Frame work for the collection and analysis of data. (Bryman and Alan 2008) A researcher should prepare and think about research questions, hypothesis, variables, data collection methods and tools etc. as assumptions before starting the research. It gives the researcher a way to follow to do the research.
The main research question of the research was set as ‘What are the Challenges of the Immigrants from Nepal in Norway in Observing Nepalese Cultural Festivals’ Sample area, event and informant were arranged from big cities of Norway, Bergen and Oslo.
As primary data collection tool, in-depth interviews with the relevant informants were taken and ethnographic empirical observations of the relevant event and activities were done. Similarly, secondary data has been collected through visiting different libraries, collecting and reading different books, journals, periodicals and internet publications and the websites.
2.4. Data collection:
As this research was set as a qualitative research design, it has adopted qualitative research tools for collecting data. The qualitative research tools such as, observation, interviews, document analysis are used for data collection and analysis in this research.
Observation is the inductive method of data collection. This inductive method involves looking and listening very carefully to discover particular information about the subjects’ behavior. It requires that the researcher becomes a participant in the situation, patterns, culture and context being observed. The role of observer as a participant is to collect data, note, and store the observed data and analyze them. The observations are the ways to assume natural phenomena of interviews. Therefore, it demands longer time; it can take a month or more than that for intensive work. Usually, the observational data consists of detailed information about the context and subjects, which provide deeper and richer understanding of the issues (Kitchin and Tate 2000, 220).
The participatory observation is the main tool of my research design. It is an ethnographic research related to the Nepalese immigrants in Norway. For the detailed and the depth research, it was an advantage for me being a Nepalese and living in Norway. I could get easy involvement in the related events and the activities and get the information. All this made this research, an empirical research.
Patton (2002) says that our cultures shape what we see, our socialization patterns form how we look at (perceive) the world, and our value systems tell us how to interpret what is around us. Therefore, as Patton explains, a disciplined training and rigorous preparations on observational methods are needed for the researchers to conduct scientific inquiry. It is also true that different people see the events differently. What people see and make an idea about events depends on their interests, knowledge, backgrounds and cultural setting. During the observation, my involvement was not only for the research it. I was there because I was observing the festivals or enjoying the events as other normal participants were doing there. It is because I am also from the same Nepalese community as they are. Because of my matching background with the participants helped me to understand and inquire the activities in the similar way they did.
During the research, beside the observation, the interviews were also taken for the data collection. But, the ways of perceiving the data are different in the observation and interviews. The different things between interview and observation is that interviews are self-reports of participants about their experiences, opinions and feelings. On the other hand the observations rely on the observer’s ability to interpret what is happening and why it is happening. The main advantage of the observation is its directness. The researcher watches what participants do and listen to what they say, rather than asking about their experiences, feelings and views (Kitchin and Tate, 2000).
For the collection of the data, as empirical participatory researcher, I observed the following activities organized by some Nepalese families and organizations in Norway.
In 2015, I observed a Dashain festival celebration in private residence of Nepalese family in Bergen on 23 October. The family organized the celebration event inviting some Nepalese students living in Bergen.
The Nepalese women’s festival, Teej was celebrated in a public event by the Nepalese women in Bergen. NEBERS organized the event on 19th September 2015. Though it was the festival of the women, the including some male participants, I was also there to observe the event.
On 9th April, 2016, I took part in Nava Barsa, Nepalese New year celebration Program in Oslo organized NRNA, Norway.
During the Tihar festival in 2016, I observed Laxmi-puja and Mha-puja in Oslo. The Laxmi Puja was organized in a private residence by some Nepalese families and similarly the Mha-puja was also organized by a Nepalese family in their residence on 31th of October.
Indra-Jatra festival was celebrated in 2016. The detail of the celebration is mentioned in the chapter 4.4.
The Dashain festival was also celebrated at the residences of some of the friends in Oslo. And a also took part in Dashain Celebration event organized by NRNA, Norway and NESCO on 30th September 2017. The detail information of the event is in chapter 4.3.
Including my family, I participated in Christmas festival celebration event organized by a Nepalese family in Oslo. It was organized on 25th December 2017.
On the occation of Tihar Festival a cultural program was organized in Oslo by Nepali School, Norway on 14th October 2017. I took part in the program with my family
On 20th October 2017, like in 2016, Mha-Puja celebration was organized by a Nepalese family in their private residence in Oslo. About 30 people participated in the event. I took part in the program as one of the participants.
The experiences and involvement in the social life of the researchers are very noteworthy in the ethnographic research. Social life as a whole is not only real and representable, it is representable because it is accessible as a totality to the ethnographer’s living experience. (Asad, T. 1994) I think my empirical participation in the activities are worthy for the research.
Since I was following the qualitative research method, I designed interview questions in such a way that the respondents are encouraged to give the in-depth explanation of the issue. And the fixed-response or yes/no questions are simply avoided. It allows the respondents to express their thoughts in their own words. The open ended interview method is chosen because this kind of interview is better to get the clear and detailed interaction. I prepared my interview guide and information sheet before I start conducting the interviews. I also decided to conduct the semi-structured interview because I can ask something which I think relevant in between of the interviews. Before taking interviews and field work, I had to get the authorization from Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD). After I got the approval from NSD, I started to conduct the interviews. Before every interview, the brief information about the research is provided to the interviewees and made them clear about the purpose of the interview and about the privacy of their information. I assured them to make their name anonymous in my research
I had chosen to interview 7 respondents. In interview, the respondents were asked series of questions related to the theme under investigation. For the selection of the interviewees, representative stratified sampling method was adopted. It is because there is diversity of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway. It is supposed that the respondents or the sample of the research is balanced or inclusive according to their gender, age, education level, occupation the duration of their stay in Norway, ethnic group and religious identity.
I supposed to conduct face to face or Skype based interview. However, I just conducted face to face interviews. Most of the interviews were taking in home or residence of the informants. But in some cases, some interviews were done at my residence. I also added some follow-up questions in my interview guide later when I found it is essential. Similarly, some follow-up interviews were done when more information was required.
In order to assure the privacy of the informants, they are given anonymous identity. The numerical codes are given to the informants who took part in the interviews. The detail of their gender, age, education level, occupation, the duration of their stay in Norway, ethnic group and religious identity are presented in the following table.
Presentation of the detail of the Respondent in Interviews
Respondent’s Code Gender Age Education/
Degree Occupation Stay in Norway/Year Ethnicity Religion
1 Male 28 Master Student 3 Bramhan Hindu
2 Female 37 Highschool Service 6 Kshetri Hindu
3 Female 39 Master Explorationist 13 Newar Hindu
4 Female 27 Bachelor Nurse 6 Kshetri Hindu
5 Male 41 PhD Student 4 Newar Hindu
6 Male 35 Master Student 5 Tamang Buddhist
7 Male 27 Master Student 2 Newar Hindu
2.5. Validity and Reliability of the Research
Researcher should be aware of the validity and reliability of the study project. It makes the research worthy and trusty.
For qualitative research, reliability is the assurance that the research is factual enough to be trusted. According to Kirk and Miller (1986, 41-42), meaning of reliability is the degree to which a measurement remains the same in the repeated actions; the stability of a measurement over time; and the similarity of measurements within a given time period. And validity refers to “you are observing, identifying, or measuring what you say you are” (Bryman 2008, 376). In qualitative research, it indicates that the research is sound enough, well grounded, justifiable and logically ordered.
According to perspective of Kitchin and Tate (2000), validity concerns about the soundness, legitimacy and relevance of a research theory and its investigation. The Interdependency between reliability and validity is “there can be no validity without reliability; a demonstration of the former is sufficient to establish the latter” (Lincoln and Guba 1985, p. 316).
Being a qualitative researcher, I have been careful and sensitive about the authenticity of the data collected from different sources. Similarly, I have analyzed and sort out these data in the light of the scholarly text and according to the social and cultural context. For instance, when I analyzed the observed events of the celebration of Dashain festival, I studied different reference articles and compared with them.
2.6. Ethical Consideration
Every researcher should be aware of the research ethics before s/he starts any research. Research ethics helps to build the moral standard for finding the truth, respect the social norms and values, human rights and it is helpful for avoiding mistakes and errors in research procedure.
About the obligation to respect confidentiality the Guidelines for research Ethics in the social sciences, law and the humanities-NESH declares that the researchers must prevent the use and dissemination of information that could harm individual research subjects. Research material must usually be anonymised, and strict requirements must apply from how lists of names or other information that would make it possible to identify individuals are stored and destroyed. (NESH, 2006) I was very much careful about the ethics before I start the fieldwork. I prepared the brief information about the research and consent sheet and give to the respondent’s time to read it carefully before I took the interview. I made the respondents clear that the date and information would be saved in my personal computer and no one will be able to access them except me. I assured them that all the data, information and the interview recordings will be deleted after the completion of the research. I am very much careful about the academic misconduct, academic cheating and the misinterpretation of the data during my research. This conduct, made the respondents confident and secure to give information and I found them open to answer my queries.
As one of the ethics of the research, there were some paper works and formalities before starting the research. After getting consent on the research topic from the supervisor, three sided agreement was made between researcher, supervisor and the university. Then,I as a the researcher reported research plan to Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD) before carrying out the research and data collection, in accordance with the Norwegian laws and research ethics.
About the access of the researchers to social, cultural and linguistic background of research, Guidelines for research Ethics in the social sciences, law and the humanities- NESH says that:
‘Cultural and social science researchers have access only to those investigated through communicaton, including interviews and document analyses. Thus to discuss and analyse those being investigated, cultural and social scientists must have access to respondents’ language and traditions.’ (Guidelines-NESH, p. 8)
Being a Nepalese and aware of Nepalese culture and languages, I got significant benefits during the interviews and observations. I participate and celebrated festivals and events in Bergen and Oslo with the Nepalese. Furthermore, I can speak some Nepali languages (Nepali and Nepal Bhasa) as well.
I personally knew most of the interviewees before and we are friends to each other or met them while observing the festivals or taking part in the events. Because of all these reasons, the informants were confident to express the information in detail during interviews. They were more open to me for every question during the interview, so I think that they provided plenty of information openly and honestly. Most of them did accept my request for interview easily and this helped me to get started my interview process in time. Because of some language, cultural and religions matching, we understand each other easily during interviews. They provided good cooperation and there were no problem to manage or rescheduling interview times.
This chapter deals with the conceptual perspectives based on which, the research is carried out. In the research, the issue of identity is discussed relating to the immigration tendency. In relation to observing festivals, different approaches of identity are analysed in the research. National identity, cultural and ethnic identity and religious identity are the major approaches related to this research. The chapter presents the conceptual prospects on immigration and identity and the relevant approaches of identity. Some of the analysis are discussed here and tried to justify that festivals are the symbol and an important means of identity of the community or the nation from where the immigrants come.
Prospect on Immigration and Identity:
Immigration is the global issue. Connecting the immigration trends with the globalization, Kitty Calavita mentioned in the book, ‘Immigrants at the Margins: Law, Race and Exclusion in Southern Europe’ that
“Immigration exposes the contradictions of globalization as well. As Sassen and others have argued, immigration in many ways epitomizes the contradictory nature of, and fragmentations within, contemporary globalization. I use the term globalization guardedly here to refer not to the integration of the global economy in general (as much of the world’s economy has in fact been marginalized in the process), but more precisely to the increased integration of the ?rst world economies, their heightened dominance over world economic processes, their increasing reliance on third world labor, and the contraction of time and space through communication and transportation technologies that make such integration and dominance possible.” (Calavia K. 2005)
I found in the book that one of the important conclusions Calavita made is efforts to offset immigrant exclusion through integration policies are as urgent as they are destined. The tension between immigrants’ utility as a labor force and their social exclusion is not just a matter of them being wanted but not welcome.
The study on integration challenges for ‘Bhutanese refugees in Norway via Third Country Resettlement’, a master thesis of Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) done by Mahesh Bhattarai describes that how Bhutanese refugees in Alta overcome the challenges in the integration process in Norwegian society. ‘Even though almost all of them learned the Norwegian language and culture and are self-sustained, they see the challenges for maintaining their native culture and religious norm and values and cultural festivals. Their identities have been changed from refugee to Norwegian citizen but still they feel themselves as Bhutanese or Nepalese.’ (Bhattrai M. 2015) Through the research can be supposed that the immigration is global phenomenon, but the issue of the immigrants’ identity cannot be changed as the citizenship has changed.
Relating a festival in post-war in Hong Kong to Place, Identity and Immigrant Community, Elizabeth Sinn and Wai-Ling Wong highlighted on the solidarity of ethnic groups. A festival named ‘Yulan’ is taken as an example or a case in the research. It is mentioned in the article that ‘In the process of migration, some traditions persist while others do not. The Yulan Festival continues to be observed because it empowers migrant communities through community solidarity, and colours their hard lives with the pleasure of rituals and entertainment, while satisfying the economically successful migrants with channels for status achievement. Yulan organisations straddle a wide social range, involving participants from both elite and non-elite groups. Although the more educated Chiu Chow members may regard the Yulan Festival as superstitious and a waste of money and effort (Sparks, 1979: 47), lower-level community leaders and the ordinary masses perceive the festival as socially important, a means to enhance group solidarity and a symbol of ethnic visibility.’ (Sinn E. and Wong W.L. 2005)
One of the challenges of observing festival in the immigrated place is emotional battle between the immigrants and the community in the immigrated place. The battle is about maintaining identity of both sides. In a Journal of Spain Cultural Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2. an article was published. The title of the article is ‘Battles of identity or playing ‘Guest’ and ‘Host’. It was about the festivals of Moors and Christians in the context of Moroccan Immigration in Spain’. It is stated in the article that ‘The Festivals also provide a window into the symbolic structures that lie under current conflicts over the presence of Moroccan immigrants in Spain. Like the overabundant bouquets of flowers piled at the feet of San Jorge’s statue in Alcoy in order to show the Christian’s Victory. But, the immigrants exist, and their mere presence dismantles this carefully constructed complex of rituals woven throughout centuries in order to erase all possible doubts over the Christian Spaniards’ condition as owners of their national territory. The Festivals provide the symbolic structure through which Moroccan immigration is perceived simultaneously as a return to the period of conflict predating the origin of the Festivals, and as an announcement of a threatening future. Both are periods in which identities could not be regarded as mere disguises and in which both Moors and Christians were/will be guests in their “own” territory.’ (Flesler D. and Melgosa A.P. 2003)
In the article, not only the issues of the identity if the immigrants raised, but also the concern/struggle of the host indigenous community to prevent their identity is mentioned. It seems it is obvious that the hesitations and the doubts can be created among the indigenous community for the immigrants because they don’t have same way of perceiving and understanding. And issue of self-worth leads the both parties to be alert with each other.
Regarding the immigrant’s identity construction, Fenggang Yang in Chinese Christians in America presents how Chinese Christians undergo with the construction and reconstruction of their three complex identities i.e, Chinese, Christians and American. These three identities are not compatible with each other so there have been conflicts with Chinese and American identities. There was obvious political, social and cultural confrontation between these three different identities. Cultural and religious traditions are very important for the Chinese people. Yang has clearly mentioned why these Chinese people convert to Christianity. Are they completely following the dominant religion of the receiving society and abandoned their religious and cultural traditions? What are the norms and values they are receiving from the Chinese tradition? Further, Yang also illustrates how the church helps these Chinese people to construct the identity and does the church acts only as the assimilation agency or it is a bastion for preserving the ethnic culture. (Yang, F. 1999)
Another book Immigration and Identity: Turmoil, Treatment and Transformation by Salman Akhtar presented that migration from one country to another country has deep effects in the identity of the immigrants. He addressed that there are the psychological effects on immigrants’ face and reasons behind these effects. Akhtar further examined that immigration is different from exile and the psychological problems of immigrants can be overcome. Nostalgia can be diagnosed by any other functions. He argued that the question of the loss of one’s country in mourned. (Akhtar, Salman 1999)
Issues of Immigration and identity are the correlated. Identity of the immigrants is argued in different approaches.
Relevant approaches of Identity
In the research, the issue of identity is discussed relating to the immigration tendency. Different approaches of identity are analysed in the research. National identity, cultural and ethnic identity and religious identity are the major approaches related to this research.
The term National identity can be defined as the sense of belonging to one state or to one Nation. British historical sociologist, Anthony D. Smith mentioned in his publication ‘National Identity’ that ‘In order to analyse national identity as a concept and/or as a social phenomenon, it is often necessary to study the movement that is linked to the ‘birth’ or ‘reawakening’ (the term one prefers depends on a choice between a modernist or perennialist point of view) of nations. That is ‘nationalism’, and is defined as the ‘ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an actual or potential nation’ (Smith 1991, p.73)
Why do people feel loyalty to a nation, as well as to family, region, class, and religion? When is a healthy sense of national identity transformed into virulent nationalism? What are the ethnic roots of so many contemporary conflicts? Can nations be created by design when colonial or multiethnic empires collapse? And what, exactly, is a nation? Such controversial questions are analyzed in the publication. Smith asks why the first modern nation-states developed in the West and considers how ethnic origins, religion, language, and shared symbols provide a sense of nation-even to the Basques, Kurds, and Tamils who are without states of their own. He illuminates his argument with a wealth of detailed examples: the divisions in the former Soviet Union, ethnic separatism within Europes, pan-Arab and pan-African movements, the successes and failures of nation-building on every continent. Throughout National Identity Smith stresses the positive as well as the pernicious aspects of strong national allegiances. A provocative final chapter considers the prospects of a post-national world.
In a critical article ‘Anthony D. Smith on nations and national identity: a critical assessment’ written by Montserrat Guibernau argues Smith’s notion. She wrote in the article
I argue that national identity is a modern phenomenon of a fluid and dynamic nature, one by means of which a community sharing a particular set of characteristics is led to the subjective belief that its members are ancestrally related. Belief in a shared culture, history, traditions, symbols, kinship, language, religion, territory, founding moment, and destiny have been invoked, with varying intensity at different times and places, by peoples claiming to share a particular national identity. (Guibernau M. 2004, p.134)
Regarding the dimension of National identity, she writes in her book ‘The Identity of Nations’. She writes that National identity is constituted by a set of attributes shared by those who belong to a particular nation. The Nature of these attributes stems from the specific way in which the nation is defined. In referring to the nation as human group conscious of forming a community, sharing a common culture, attached to a clearly demarcated territory, having a common past and a common project for the future. Claiming the right to self-determination, she is implying that national identity has five dimensions. These are psychological, cultural, territorial, historical and political.’ (Guibernau M. 2007, p.11)
Based on the analysed articles, the Nepalese immigrants living in Norway are presentation national identity of Nepal with their attributes. One of their attributes of presenting of national identity is following or celebrating different cultural and religious festivals connected to Nepal.
Cultural and Ethnic Identity
It has briefly discussed that Nepal is multilingual and multicultural country with the existence of many ethnic groups and communities and castes. The groups or communities have been following the distinctive culture and traditions than other groups and communities with in a state. They are the symbols of identity of that particular group or community. In the research the issue of the cultural and ethnic identity is also raised as a challenge of the immigrants. The issue are: while a member of the group or community immigrates, could he/she able to represent or exhibit the identity of his/her community?
In a publication, ‘Questions of cultural Identity’ by Stuart Hall and Pauldu Gay, they mentioned Relating to the role of culture on the process of identification, in the publication it is mentioned that:
…actually identities are about questions of using the resources of history, language and culture in the process of becoming rather than being: not “who we are” or “where we came from”, so much as what we might become, how we have been represented and how that bears on how we might represent ourselves. (Hall S. 1996, p.4)
The culture based festivals are recognized national identity. It reflects more when it is followed by the immigrants in the abroad. Festivals which are related to the culture are the one of the parts of human cultural phenomena which is related to their history and their identity. Addressing about the settlement and inclusion of the immigrants from the different background of cultures, the Norwegian Ministry of Culture was published a white paper, 2011-2012. In the white paper, Culture, inclusion and participation is mentioned that:
‘The goal of securing access to cultural experiences for as many people as possible is not new in Norwegian cultural policy. For several years, the Ministry of Culture has asked subsidiary bodies and funding recipients to work to reach a broad public with varied cultural offerings of high quality, and to work to ensure that they reflect the diversity of the population. The cultural sector is currently working well on issues of inclusion. Nevertheless, to move forward it is necessary to have more systematic and long-term approach, as well as more systematic knowledge about how to deal with the issue of inclusion.'(Meld. St. 10. 2011-2012, p. 11)
Nepal is a secular state according to constitution of Nepal. The treatment of all religions equally by the state and Freedom of religion is also guaranteed by Nepali constitution. (The Constitution of Nepal, 2015) Prior to the movement for democracy in early 2006 and the sacking of Monarchy in 2008, the country was officially a Hindu kingdom. Hinduism is the majority religion in the state and profoundly influences its social structure, while Buddhism is practiced by some ethnic groups (for example some Newer) in forms which are strongly influenced by Hinduism. (Bhattrai K. P. 2008)
Professor Surya P. Subedi presented his thought supporting the statement in a book,
Accommodating National Identity: New Approaches in International and Domestic Law.’ in his article ‘Constitutional Accommodation of Ethnicity and National Identity’ he stated that ‘Hindus are not homogenous religious group. Hinduism is a belief and a way of life of an individual rather than purely a religious concept. Hinduism may mean one thing to one Hindu and slightly another thing to another Hindu. (Tierney Kluwer, 2000)
For example: Most of the casts groups from Newar communities and the Kshetri communities are Hindus. But, there are many differences within the communities in the ways and processions of celebration of the religious festivals. Another example some of the Nepalese from the Gurung community celebrate Dashain festival and some don’t. Who celebrate the festivals some of them put offer red tika and some of them white.
In the 2011 Census around 81 percent of Nepalese reported their religion as Hindu, thus locating themselves within the caste system. But for the most part over the last several hundred years and even earlier in some areas, whether they were Hindu or not, all Nepalese were socially defined by the caste system. Some in high mountain areas may have been more influenced by Tibetan Buddhism and others in remote valleys and jungle areas by Shamanistic or Animistic beliefs. For them contact with the Hindu world view may have been minimal, but for most people living in the territorial boundaries of the modern Nepali state – especially after the promulgation of the National Code or Muluki Ain in 1854 – the caste system has been a major determinant of their identity, social status and life chances. In this system everyone was organized in terms of their relative ritual purity into the four broad varnas of the classical Hindu caste system: the Brahman priests, the Kshatriya kings and warriors, the Vaisya traders and businessmen and the Sudra peasants and laborers – with an additional group technically “outside” the caste system because of their ritually defiling occupations which rendered them “untouchable” by others. (Bennett, Dahal and Govindasamy, 2008)
This broad framework of the caste hierarchy is replicated with countless local variations and elaborations all over the Indian sub-content. The earliest detailed record of the caste system operating in Nepal occurs in the Kathmandu valley during the reign of the Newari King Jayasthiti Malla (1380- 1394) where 64 different castes were allotted different tasks and ranks in the hierarchy. Later Ram Shah (1609-1636), the forefather of the present Shah monarch, introduced some rules and regulations about relations between different groups of people outside the Kathmandu valley, but how rigid or widely practiced these rules were is not known. It is clear however that during the 17th century as they conquered the various petty kingdoms in the territory that is now Nepal, the Shah rulers used the concept of the caste hierarchy as an organizing principle for consolidating the diverse peoples inhabiting Nepal into a nation state under their authority. In 1854, early in the period of Rana rule, a National Legal Code (Muluki Ain) was proclaimed that laid out detailed codes for inter-caste behaviour and specified punishments for their infringement. Caste system is supposed as a part of the religion in Nepalese society. (Hofer, 1979; Pradhan, 2002; Whelpton, 1997)
Intercultural Theories related to the research
Y. Y. Kim’s (1988, 2001) Cross-cultural Adaptation Theory provides the basis for offering an explanation of the theoretical linkage between host communication competence, host/ethnic interpersonal communication, host/ethnic mass communication and psychological adjustment in the United States. A self-reported structured survey questionnaire was collected from 81 young Korean immigrants. The results show that key research variables are significantly related to the psychological adjustment of young Korean immigrants. The findings of this study have theoretical implication that communication is at the heart of successful adaptation experiences among young immigrants. In and through contact and communication, immigrants acquire knowledge of the host language, culture, worldviews, beliefs, norms, and rules of social conduct and interpersonal relationships; they learn to resonate emotionally and aesthetically with natives (Kim, 1997).
The ‘Cross Cultural Adaptation Theory’ of Y. Y. Kim explains that the idea that immigrants and aliens in foreign countries who participated in networks of the host country would be more likely to become acculturated than immigrants who were involved only in immigrant communication networks. The theory interpreted that those visiting other countries will be more likely to become accustomed to the culture they are submerged in if they choose to participate in the communication networks such as television and newspaper rather than not engaging in the networks of the country they are visiting. The issue of immigrants’ cultural identity can be affected during the acculturation process.
Likewise, the ‘Standpoint Theory’ by Sandra Harding (1982) and Julia T. Wood is in the research. The theory says that the individual experience, knowledge and communication behaviours are shaped in large part by the social groups to which they belong. In the research individual experience, knowledge and communication behaviours can be justified as culture and it can be studied as such to analyze the challenges of the immigrants as a social group. Standpoint theory’s most important concept is that an individual’s own perspectives are shaped by his/her social and political experiences. Standpoints are multifaceted rather than essentializing: while Hispanic women may generally share some perspectives, particularly with regard to ethnicity or sex, they are not defined solely by their participation in these categories. The amalgamation of a person’s many experienced dimensions form a standpoint a point of view through which that individual sees and understands the world. Standpoint theory gives voice to the marginalized groups by allowing them to challenge the status quo as the outsider within. The status quo represents the dominant white male position of privilege. (Buzzanell, Patrice M. 2003)
OBSERVING NEPALESE FESTIVALS
This chapter describes the details of observing some of the important Nepalese festivals. The aim of the chapter is to examine how some of the important Nepalese festivals are celebrated in Norway comparing how the festivals are celebrated in Nepal with its religious and cultural context. Here in this chapter, I selected the festivals: Dashain, Indra-Jatra and Mha-Puja to describe that how they are celebrated in Nepal and compare them how they are celebrated/celebrating in Norway. The selected festivals are taken as some of the most important festivals celebrated in Norway. In the chapter some of the specific questions of this research are tried to answer. Such as: Do immigrants from Nepal celebrate their Nepalese cultural festivals in Norway? How do they celebrate it? What are the circumstances of observing the festivals in abroad?
The chapter emphasizes the discussions of the celebrations of the chosen festivals: Dashain, Indra-Jatra and Mha-Puja in Nepal and Norway. The sources of the discussions in this chapter are my own long experiences of the celebrations of the festivals from my childhood, empirical observations of the celebrations of the festivals organized by organizations, family and individuals in Nepal and Norway, interviews with the individual informants and the representatives of the organizations and the electronic and hardcopy publications related to the topic.
4.2.1. What is Dashain and how is it celebrated in Nepal?
Dashain is the greatest Hindu festival which is celebrated in the month of September or October. It is very popular and the most auspicious festival among the Nepalese. Though the festival is based on the Hindu religion, these days it is celebrated as a national festival and even among the Nepalese throughout the globe. It is also celebrated by many Hindus elsewhere.
Dashain is also called Durga Puja or Bijaya Dashami. Dashain is known ‘Mwohni’ among Newar community the Newar. They also celebrate Mwohni as the most important festival of the calendar year. Among Newars, Mwohni is also important for its emphasis on family gatherings as well as on a renewal of community ties, highlighted by special family dinners called Nakhtya and various community processions of deities called ‘Jatra’ throughout the three royal cities of Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.
Dashain festival is mainly based on the Hindu religion and it is mainly observed by the Hindus, who are mostly Arayns.
According to the organizations of indigenous people (who are non-Aryans), only half of the indigenous nationalities in the country observe Dashain festival. The rapid development of the information technologies, educational awareness, mixed up societies, and migrations among others have helped the festivals to cross the communal boundaries, subsuming varieties of varsities of societies. (Rawal 2013)
Though some of the groups or communities of Nepal don’t have tradition to observe Dashain Festival, they are gradually starting to celebrate it adopting it as a social festival rather than religious. It is an example of transforming or crossing the communal boundaries. For example Kirat community doesn’t have culture to celebrate Dashain. However, I observed, these days they celebrate Dashain taking it as National and social festival.
Dashain is traditionally celebrated for two weeks with prayers and offerings to Durga, a Goddess. It is a time for family reunions, exchange of gifts and blessings, and elaborate pujas. Dashain honours the Goddess Durga, who was created out of the shakti or energy of all the gods, armed with weapons from each of them. Goddess Durga, symbolizing valor and prowess, is worshipped and offered sacrifices to ensure the devotees’ progress and prosperity. Besides the cultural and religious activities Dashain is also attractive because of some entertaining during the celebration of Dashian. The children are presented new clothes. Home visit of the relatives are made. Grand feasts are organized at the houses. The children and adult also enjoy with kite flying and ‘Ping’ (traditional swing) during the festival. Playing cards among the family members is also popular means of entertainment during gatherings in the Dashain. As Dashain is considered as a biggest festival in Nepal, except the emergency services, all government offices, educational institutions and other offices remain closed during the festival period for 10 to 15 days.
‘Dashain commemorates a great victory of the gods over the wicked demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayan, where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravana, the cruel king of demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked. The main celebration glorifies the victory of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorised the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo. The first nine days signify the nine days of ferrous battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolise the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess.’ (Karki, 2017)
For the celebration of Dashain festival, most of the houses are cleaned and painted. It is believed that the goddess Durga may visit and bless the house with good fortune. During this time, reunions of distant and nearby relatives occur in the houses. The market is filled with shoppers seeking new clothing, gifts, luxuries and enormous supplies of temple offering for the gods, as well as foodstuffs for the family feasting. Thousands of sheep, goats, ducks, chicken and black buffalos are prepared for the great slaughter. It is for the sacrifice to the goddess Durga or for the consuming in the feast during the festival period.
The festival runs for 15 days. The first nine days of Dashain symbolize the battle which took place between Durga and Mahishasur, and the tenth day is the final day when Durga finally defeated him.The first nine days of Dashain are called ‘NawaRatri’ when tantric rites are conducted. In Nepal the life force is embodied in the divine energy and power of the female, depicted as goddess Durga in her many forms. All goddess who emanated from goddess Durga are known as devis, each with different aspects and powers. In most goddess temples the deity is represented simply as a holy Kalash, carved water jug or multiple handed goddess holding murderous weapons. During these nine days people pay their homage to the goddess. It is believed that if she is properly worshiped and pleased good fortunes are on the way and if angered through neglect then misfortunes are around the corner. The devotees believe that the mother goddess is the source of life and everything.
The procession of the first day of Dashain is called ‘Ghatasthapana’, which literally means pot establishing. On this day the Kalash, (holy water vessel) symbolizing goddess Durga often with her image embossed on the side is placed in the prayer room. The Kalash is filled with holy water and covered with cow-dung on to which seeds are sown. A small rectangular sand block is made and the Kalash is put in the centre. The surrounding bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The Ghatasthapana ritual is performed at a certain auspicious moment determined by the astrologers. At that particular moment the priest intones a welcome, requesting goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence. The room where the Kalash is established is called ‘Dashain Ghar’. A priest or a household man worships the Kalash everyday once in the morning and then in the evening. The Kalash and the sand are sprinkled with holy water every day and it is shielded from direct sunlight. By the tenth day, the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass. The sacred yellow grass is called ‘Jamara’. It is bestowed by the elders atop the heads of those younger to them during the last five days when ‘Tika’ (Religious mark with rice and red colour powder which is considered as a holly material and used to put on forehead on the religious occasions) is put on. The Jamara is taken as a token of Goddess Durga as well as the elders blessing.
As days passes by regular rituals are observed till the seventh day. The seventh day is called ‘Fulpati’. In Fulpati, the royal Kalash filled with holy water, banana stalks, Jamara and sugar cane tied with red cloth is carried by Brahmans on a decorated palanquin under a gold tipped and embroidered umbrella. The government officials also join the Fulpati parade. With this the Dashain feasting starts.
The eighth day is called the ‘Maha Asthami’ The fervour of worship and sacrifice to Durga and Kali increases. On this day many orthodox Hindus will be fasting. Sacrifices are held in the house throughout the day. The night of the eighth day is called ‘KalRatri’, the dark night. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed at the mother goddess temples. The sacrifice continues till dawn. While the puja is being carried out great feasts are held in the homes of common people where large amount of meat are consumed.
The ninth day is called ‘Nawami’. Temples of mother goddess are filled with people from dawn till dusk. Animals mostly black buffaloes are slaughtered to honour Durga the goddess of victory and might and to seek her blessing. Military bands play war tunes, guns boom and officers with beautifully decorated medals in full uniform stand there. When the function ends the courtyard is filled ankle deep with blood. On this very day the god Vishwa Karma, the ‘God of Creativity’ is also worshiped. All factories, vehicles, any machinery instruments and anything from which we make a living are worshiped. The moving machinery like motorbikes cars, trucks etc. are given sacrifices to get the blessing from goddess Durga for protection for vehicles and their occupants against accidents during the year. The entire day is colourful.
The tenth day is the ‘Dashami’. It is also called Bijay Dashami or Tika. On this day, Tika and Jamara are received from the elders and receive their blessing. The elders are visited in their home and get Tika from them while our younger ones come to our home to receive blessing from us. People are seen moving around with their foreheads covered with rice Tika, wearing new clothes. There is much feasting as people visit relatives’ homes to receive tika and blessings. The importance of Dasain also lies in the fact that on this day family members from far off and distant relatives come for a visit as well as to receive Tika from the head of the family. This function continues for four days. After four days of rushing around and meeting your relatives Dashain ends on the full moon day, the fifteenth day. In the last day people stay at home and rest. The full moon day is also called ‘Kojagrata’ meaning ‘who is awake’. The Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi is worshipped. On this day the goddess Laxmi is given an invitation to visit each and everyone. After Dashain everyone settles back to normal. After receiving the blessing of goddess Durga, people are ready to work and acquire virtue, power and wealth. Dashain thus is not only the longest festival but also the most anticipated one among all the festivals of Nepal. (Karki, 2017)
4.2.2. Celebration of Dashain in Norway
As Dashain is celebrated throughout the globe, Nepalese reside in Norway also celebrate Dashain. They celebrate Dashain in different cities of Norway, such as in Bergen, Trondheim, Tromsø, Stavanger, Kristiansand etc. The celebrations are organized by the Nepalese in different ways or in different groups in the different places.
1124585205105Offering Tika and Jamara by the elders on the occasion of Dashain Celebration program organized by NRNA Norway and NESCO , 2017.
00Offering Tika and Jamara by the elders on the occasion of Dashain Celebration program organized by NRNA Norway and NESCO , 2017.
Some Nepalese celebrate Dashain at their own residence within the family members, relatives and friends as it is celebrated in Nepal.
Some of the Nepalese join Dashain celebration program organized by the Nepalese organizations. The mentioned picture is taken on 30th September 2017 while celebrating the Dashain in Oslo. The event was organized by in a hall at Vetlandsveien 99, 0685, Oslo. And it was organized jointly by NRNA, Norway and NESCO. The source of the picture is Sandeep Thapa. In the picture, the men is wearing Nepali cap and the women are wearing Sari and Kurtasurwal which are considered as national identity. The woman with the red sari is preparing to offer Jamara on her hand and the man with the brown coat is offering Tika to the couple and the child standing in front of them.The chairperson of NESCO, Mr. AmritDahal, gave infroamtion that including the children and adults and elders there were about 250 Nepalese participated in the event. He added that some of the Nepalese are not able to attend this program because of they have to go to their work or do their important business.
The following statement of the informant no. 3 who has been living in Norway from about 20 years before shows that they family observe Dashain following all the rituals of the festival and invite guests and relatives as it is celebrated in Nepal.
“On the occasions we also invite the guest at home. We do all the rituals of all the days of the Dashain and Tihar. In Dashain in Newar community, we celebrate Astami as KuchhiVowyen and Nawami as Syakwotyakwo.”
“We have also some relatives (my sister in laws and their family) here in Norway, we invite them at our home and we are also invited at their homes in the festivals.”
The informant also mentioned that besides with the Nepalese people, sometime they also celebrate festival with non-Nepalese inviting them as a guest in the festival. The informant said that:
“Sometimes we invite the non-Nepalese guests in the occasions; there are the opportunities of intercultural communications.”
Mostly, the Nepalese who are students or don’t have family members in Norway celebrate Dashainin the gathering and events organized by the Nepalese organizations in Norway. The following statements from the informants support the statement:
Informant no. 5:”I also took part two times in the Dashain celebration gatherings organized by NEBERS.”
Informant no.6: “On the occasion of Dashain there was a event of gathering organized by NESCO (a Nepalese student’s organization in Norway). I took part. I attended the event where I could meet many Nepalese.”
Informant no. 7: “For the celebration of Dashain, I went to an event organized by NESCO.”
Some of the Nepalese take part in the gatherings of the friends and enjoy the festival. In the gatherings they make Nepali food and entertain with different activities such as singing, dancing and playing cards and games. The following statement of the informant no. 4 indicates the description.
“I take part in the gathering of the Nepalese friends. We make Nepalese food and also enjoy with dancing and singing. We also play cards as we do in Nepal during the festivals.”
Some interesting fact of observing Dashainis also found during the interviews. Some of the Nepalese living in Norway observe or celebrate Dashain though it is not their primordial festival or they and their family rarely celebrate it in Nepal. It is because they are not Hindus and they don’t have the culture to celebrate Dashain in Nepal. They take part in the gatherings of the Nepalese for the social cause so that they wouldn’t be isolated from the majority of the Nepalese in Norway. The informant no. 6 expressed the followingview point which supports the stated fact.
“I feel bit distress while observing Dashain here in Norway. It is because though Dashain is not my cultural festival and I used to celebrate it as a secondary festival in Nepal, here I had to observe as a main festival. I had to take part in the program for the social cause with the Nepalese immigrants here. If I don’t celebrate I would be isolated.”
In the beginning of the program, greeting speeches were delivered by the represents from different Nepalese organizations of Oslo. After it, to all the participants in the program, a Nepalese elder couple offered Tika and Jamara along with the blessings. It was the main ritual of the program. After this ritual, Nepalese food is served to the participants. The food is with the different Nepali recipes of meat and vegetables. At the end of the program for the entertainment, the participants danced in Nepali songs. Most of the participants were dressed up attractively. Some of the men wore Daura-surwal which is one of the national dresses. Plenty of women dressed up with Sari and Kurta which were also reflected Nepali fashion.
In 2016, NRNA, Norway and NESCO separately organized the Dashain celebration programs in the different venues and different dates. NRNA, Norway organized the program on 15th of October Saturday at Ravnkollbakken 71, 0971 Osloand NESCO organized the Dashain celebration event on 11th October at Ravnkollbakken 36, Oslo as the same way organized in 2017.
The president of NRNA, Norway, Mr. Sanjeev Kumar Thapa said that Since NRNA, Norway is the leading organization among all the Nepalese Organizations in Norway and one of the specific objectives of the Association is to promote Nepalese cultures, traditions and languages in Norway, we have been organizing Dashain Celebration program from the establishment of NRNA in Norway. I believe that such kinds of program help to promote and save Nepalese identity and develop the brotherhood and sisterhood between Nepalese in abroad.’
Likewise in previous years, in 2017 also, Dashain celebration program is organized in Bergen. In the telephone conversation the vice-president of NEBERS, Mr. Sushil Adhikari said ‘NEBERS organized the program on 15th of October. The program was organized exchanging the greetings among the Nepalese participants attended in the program. There were about 50 participants in the program. In the program Nepali food is also served and different entertaining games and dances were performed.’
Besides the bigger gatherings in Oslo and Bergen, some small gathering at the residence of the Nepalese are also organized for the celebrations in different cities of Norway.
Mr. Sunil Thapa who is living in Kristiansand as a student said that in 2017 he celebrated Dashain with some of the Nepalese friends who are also studying in University in Kristiansand. He said that they celebrated in a residence of one of the friends in a day of weekend. They prepared and eat some Nepali food and also enjoyed with dancing and drinking beers.
Mr. Sanjeev Shrestha who is moved to Oslo to Narvic in 2017 expressed that we also celebrated Dashain in Narvik together with the Nepalese group. He said ‘Though here in Narvik there are only about 30 Nepalese are there. Including my wife and me about 20 Nepalese gathered on 30th September and celebrated our greatest festival, Dashain by exchanging greeting to each other. On that occasion we brought different Nepali food items and shared in the groups. We also enjoyed the gathering by songs presented some of the youths. I heard that this is the only gathering of the Nepalese which occurs once a year here.’
There is also celebration of Dashain in Stavanger. Ms.Sanjibani Gharti has been living in Stavangerwith her husband since 2007. She said ‘We are celebrating Dashain every year. Since Dashain is a greatest festival of Nepalese, we like to celebrate it. But, because of time management we cannot do all the procedure of the festival. We just invite some Nepalese who are living surround here and offer Nepalese food and spend some occasion with them.’
Mr. SushilChiltrakar is living in Gjøvik since 2015. Gjøvik is a town and a municipality in Oppland country, Norway. He works there as IT technician and his wife is doing PhD studying there. Regarding the celebration of Dashain Mr. Chitrakar said that we celebrate Dashain in a very limited ways since here in Gjøvik, my family is the only one Nepalese family. On the top of that we both are busy in our own profession. So, we only celebrate Dashain one day around Bijaya Dashami by making Nepali food and making contact to the family in Nepal. It is bit sad that we cannot celebrate Dashain as great way as we do in Nepal. Last year we enjoyed the Dashain a lot because my parents came to visit us and on the occasion of Dashain we arranged some activities with them. We could also get Tika, Jamara with the blessing from them’
On the basis of the discussion mentioned above, most of the Nepalese living in Norway celebrates Dashain in some way. It is found that they celebrate Dashain either in a gathering of the Nepalese organized by organizations or with the friends in the personal residence. Though they take it as a greatest national festival and like to enjoy it, there are some circumstances to celebrate it as it is celebrated in Nepal. The functions of all the days of Dashain are rarely observed by the Nepalese in Norway.
4.3.1. What is Indra-Jatra and how is it celebrated in Nepal?
Indra is Lord of Rain and the king of Heaven. Jatra is procession. Indra-Jatra is celebration of God Indra’s Day. Indra-Jatra is a major festival of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Some believes Indra-Jatra is thanking day to lord Indra for the rain. ‘Indra-Jatra, also known as Yenya, is the largest street festival in Nepal.
Yenya Festival consists of two parts, namely Indra-Jatra and KumariJatra. The celebrations of Indra-Jatra include the flagpole ceremony, blood sacrifice, displays of Bhairava’s masks, etc. On the third day of the festival of Indra-Jatra, the living goddess Kumari is taken out in a procession in a Charikot. ‘Kumari’, the ‘living goddess’, is considered to be incarnation of the goddess ‘Taleju’. Chariots of Kumari, Ganesh and Bhairavare taken around the city for three days. According to Hindu beliefs Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati who has a head of an elephant and Bhairav is another form of lord Shiva himself.
The festival’s many cultural dances, including the procession of living goddess-Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Dasha avatar masked dances are staged in Kathmandu durbar square, near the Kumari temple. The excitement of the Indra-Jatra and Kumari festival comes to an end on the last evening of the festival when the long wooden pole erected on the first day is lowered with religious ceremonies, animal sacrifices and ritual gestures. Dozens are water buffalo are sacrificed in a ritual to honor Kumari. Masks of Bhairavaare displayed at various places in Kathmandu throughout the eight days of the festival. Bhairava is the terrifying aspect of Shiva. The largest ones are of Sweta-Bhairava at Durbar Square, and of Akash-Bhairava at Indrachok in Kathmandu. A pipe sticking out of the mouth of Sweta-Bhairava dispenses alcohol and rice beer on different days. An image of Bhairava is exhibited at Wotu, next to Indrachok. The mask of AkashBhairavais related to the Mahabharata. Some believe it to be the head of the first Kirat King Yalamber. Every night, different groups gather and sing hymns at Indrachok.
The whole week people enjoy various traditional dances and witness the chariot of Goddess Kumari, Lord Ganesh and Lord Bhairav being pulled through the older parts of the Kathmandu city.’ (Jigme, 2016)
It takes place in Nepali Bhadra month (August to September in Solar Calendar) and lasts for eight days. Following Gai-Jatra, Indra-Jatra festival is celebrated by Nepalese to pray to Indra and Dagini for a good harvest and commemorate the deceased in the past year. On the last day, the flagpole erected at Kathmandu Durbar Square will be burned down, which signifies the end of Indra-Jatra festival.
According to legend, Indra, the god of rain, once descended to Kathmandu valley to steal a certain flower for his mother, Dagini. Since nobody knew his identity, Indra was imprisoned like a common thief. The elephant (The elephant is called PuluKisi which is believed to be the carrier of Indra himself.) searched through the streets and alleys of Kathmandu but failed to find his master. Indra’s mother was so worried and came down to earth. After revealing themselves to the masses, the captor gladly released Indra. In return, Dagini promised to do two things. One is to take those who have died in the last year back to heaven. The other is to spread enough dew throughout the winter to ensure a good harvest. This is the reason why Indra-Jatra is celebrated at Kathmandu, Nepal.
4.3.2. Celebration of Indra-Jatra in Norway
3400425143256000On 18th of September 2016, the Indra-Jatra festival was celebrated organizing a common program in Oslo among the Nepalese and some guests from Norway. Though it was a first grand celebration in Oslo there was not chariot to march and sacrifices. The celebration was organized in a rented hall and its surroundings at Hans Nielsen Hauges Gate 44B, 0481 Oslo. In order to organize the program, an independent organizing committee was formed to organize the ceremony. I participated as of the members of the organizing committee. On 21st of August 2016, by the meeting of 10 Nepalese who are living in Oslo the committee was formed. By the meeting, Ms. Smita Malla was appointed as a coordinator of the committee.
39719252499995The Newari Food, Samybaji which was offered to the participant in the event. Photo Source is Manohar Pradhan.
00The Newari Food, Samybaji which was offered to the participant in the event. Photo Source is Manohar Pradhan.
The objectives of organizing the event in Oslo were jointly celebration of the Indra-Jatra festival among the Nepalese in Norway, show and educate about the Nepalese cultural and the tradition to the Nepalese young generation living in Norway and help through the fund collected from the event to the poor women in Nepal who need support for uterine prolapsed problem. Including children and some of the non-Nepalese guests (Norwegians), there were about 250 participants in the program.
In the beginning of the program Samaybaji, a traditional Newari food was offered to all the participants. Then a documentary show was presented by Mr. Manohar Pradhan among the participants. It was presented to introduce the importance of the Indra-Jatra festival. The Lakhe dance, Puluksi dance and the Kumari dance which are traditional and related dance to the festival were presented there.
The children from Nepali School in Oslo presented a play (drama) related to the story of Indra-Jatra. Some of the participants including the children came there with traditional Newari dresses which are the traditional dress of the Newar community in Nepal
In Nepal the festival is observed among the family members and relatives in each household in Kathmandu Valley and come to celebrate huge mass surroundings of the Basantapur Darwar square to watch the processions of the festival. However, the celebration in a huge mass is the first time in Norway and just observed copying some attractions (like Pulukisi, Lakhe dances) of the festival. Lots of rituals are not performed when it was celebrated in Norway. And it was also not celebrated on the date when it observes in Nepal. It was observed in Norway just as a representation of the festival. It is the celebration but not fulfilled all the rituals.
It was also modified to some extent because of lack of accessibility, though it enhances the unity and communication among the Nepalese population in Norway. The Indra-Jatra festival is mainly the festival of Newar community in Kathmandu. However, in the event there were not only the Nepalese who are from Newar community. I observed that some of them got the chance to experience and celebrate of the festival at the first time. The guest participants who are non-Nepalese could get opportunity to watch a glance of Nepalese festival and culture through the event. Most of all the participants came together with all the members of the family. The Nepalese participants in the program are the permanent residents in Norway and the students in Norway.
4.4. Mha-PujaduringTihar Festival
4.4.1. What is Mha-Puja and how is it celebrated in Nepal?
Mha-Puja is celebrated on the fourth day of Tihar by the Newar community is the festival of Mha Puja. The day also falls on the Newari New Year which is based in the Newar calendar (Lunar Calendar), Nepal Sambat. Mha Puja literally refers to self-worship, making offering to one’s body. The body is worshiped during Mha puja as it provides for their existence and they pray for their healthy life so they could work in this physical world. However, some also say that it is an act of purification of the body, mind and soul for enlightenment against ignorance and evils of the world. (Bossnepal, 2017). Mha Puja is conducted mostly in the evening or the afternoon to make sure that Mha Puja of Aagandya (The family Goddess) and Mha Puja of Goddess Taleju Bhabani at the three place of Khwapa (Bhaktapur), Yen (Kathmandu), and Yala (Lalitpur) have been completed by the high Newar priests. These Mha Puja ceremonies of the Goddesses are not accessible to the general public. It is said that at the time of Newar Kings, the king, the priests and some high ranking Newars were able to verbally communicate with the Goddesses through tantricism and they helped perform the Mha Puja. The regular Mha Puja found in Newar household is usually performed in the floor in the dining area. Newars residing outside Nepal miss this grand event very much and the details seem increasingly interesting. Basic elements of Mha Puja are the same for all Newars. Some procedural details may vary from family to family.
Manda (Mandala) is an essential part of Mha Puja celebration. First the floor (usually tiled or plastered) is purified by sprinkling holy water collected from a sacred stream. Next Mandalas are created on the floor in front of the row of seats for the family members and elsewhere. The total number of Mandalas exceeds the number of people in the household by three. One at the top of the line, which is usually smaller in size and separate from the rest, is for House-God. This is followed by one for each and every member of the household and two additional ones at the end that are at right angles to the main row. The last two Mandalas are for the ever-watching Yamaraj and Jamaraj, the ambassadors of Death who are always ready to rake sinners to hell.
Each Mandalas is carefully prepared on the floor by following an elaborate procedure. A set of closely spaced concentric circles are first drawn in each Manda area by employing a mustard oil soaked cloth piece wrapped around a flower plant steam or a pencil. It may be worth mentioning here that Mha Puja stresses in strong, long-lasting, bright, healthy and fragrant and such other things with positive connotations and only materials that are considered clean and utilized.
Oil marks last longer just as Ita (oiled strand of strings) burns longer. Circles signify completeness. On the top of the oil rings a beautiful and artistic geometrical shape which constitutes the core of the Manda, is created. The markings are done in yellow Potaye (Yellow mustard powder). On the outside is a large ring enclosing a smaller one within which two squares is overlapped to eight triangular shapes. Abhir (vermilion powder) is spread along the various Potaye lines with respect to the worshipper (worshipped) and one at the centre of the Mandala.
The worship is started the same way as when worshipping God. Except this time each step is carried out first with the House-God followed by the members of the family and then Yamaraj and Jamaraj at the end. Nusala, a few drops of water in the right palm thrown into the worshipper’s mouth serves to purify the worshipping body. The panchapatra (pure water vessel) and pujabhu, the plate with worship material such as rice, flowers, taye (popped rice), vermilion powder are first recognized by offering water, rice and vermilion powder. Everybody then worships his or her own Mandala. The Mandala is used as a medium to present the various offerings to the self. Usually a Newar Brahmin of the Nakin (the eldest female in the household) or somebody deputed by the Nakin goes over each step of the worship and also takes care of the worship for the Hous-God and Yamaraj and Jamaraj. Dhun, Dhupayen (special incense of local variety) lighted and put on each of the five paddy/rice lump in each Manda, spread the festive fragrance around the worship area. Offer of fragrance pleases the soul and hopefully, makes the person’s life successful and fragrant. Two Itaa (hand-woven cotton strands soaked in oil) about two and a half feet long, are lighted at each end and offered to the worshipped who accepts by chanting in Sanskrit. Newars use Sanskrit quite a bit when it comes to worships. The light is accepted to enhance one’s inner supreme brightness and to drive away any possible problems. The blessings are for the person to be able to keep shining bright like the burning Itaa for a long, long time. The four legged ends occupy the locations of the four outer paddy/rice lumps in the Mandala. Soaking Itaa with mustard oil makes it last longer. The lights are kept on through the completion of the whole MhaPuja process. Light, which is considered as one of the five elements use to create the universe (the other four are air, water, earth, and sky), has a special meaning in worships. The offer of light spiritually brightens the inner self, makes it more powerful and keeps anything evil at bay.
Sagan (or Swagan) is another very important part of Mha Puja. Offering of Swagan to a person is usually made to reward some extraordinary ad meaningful achievement. Dhau (yogurt) Swagan is first offered with blessings. Dhau Swagan involves accepting on the forehead a composite mixture of rice, taye, vermilion powder and yogurt. Dhau Swagan on the forehead unveils the shining and cheerful face enjoying a great celebration. Khen Sagan constitutes the offerings of Swataa (the trio of egg, fish, and meat) on the left hand (for some the right hand) and local wine (liquor) on the right hand. Swataa signifies man’s victory and control over animal beings living in cell, water and land. Wine marks the celebration of the occasion. Amidst fragrant air and numerous candle-like lights from burning Itaa carefully orchestrated around splendid Mandalas, the holder of Swataa cannot help but be ecstatic.
Flowers are offered for blooming and fragrant life. A garland of ‘Gweswaan’ flower is worn around the neck. Gweswaan is sturdy, is not easily worn and torn like some other flowers and signifies blessings of long lasting and successful life. Garland also signifies victory. Jajanka is worn by worshipper (worshipped) like garland. Jajanka is made of many rounds of a white cotton thread forming a circle of about two feet in diameter and tied with small piece of red cloth in order to have no ends. Jajanka symbolizes the integration of the beginning with the end. It is about creation, maintenance and fullness of life.
Offering of a variety of fruits, nuts and sweets is for a fruitful and resourceful life. The walnut is tough outside but carries tasty nut inside. ‘Tahsi’ fruit has thin skin ans provides tasty sweet and sour fruit. Singali (the local chestnut) is hard outside and tasty inside. Sugarcane steam is tough outside but provides sweet juice for consumption. These offerings are aimed at having a strong body with pure soul. The relationship of a human with nature is also exposed. Variety of sweets shaped like the Star, the Moon, etc. adds sweetness and fun to Mha Puja. Yamaraj and Jamaraj are witnesses to the Mha Puja and they are supposed to stay away because of the physical and spiritual energy gained through the various offerings. For example, it is said that Yamaraj and Jamaraj could not even touch a person who has performed the year’s Mha Puja unless and until the walnut shell rots, which is considered highly unlikely.
The final purification of the soul and the blessing come from the Nakin or Purohit with shower on the head of a mixture of paddy, flowers, pieces of fruits, abhir (vermilion powder), aakhen (hand-milled rice) and taye in a kule (wooden or bronze container about a half-gallon size). All during the puja, the Itaa keep burning, the incense keeps spreading fragrance and the colorful Mandalas keep cheering the mood. Completion of Mha Puja is achieved after the Nakin or purohit drags tuphi (local broom) from House-God’s Mandala all the way down to Jamaraj’s Mandala.
Dhaubadel says that Mha Puja can be viewed as providing a definition of life. The literal meaning of Mha-Puja is worshiping of self body. Self-purification and blessings make one stronger. By understanding oneself first, a person has a better chance of understanding others. Understanding of oneself as being only part of a universe system makes one unselfish and more responsible. The social aspect of Mha Puja is no less important. Celebration and associated feasting by family members with Itaa lights all around Mandalas helps strengthen the family relationship. Unlike other occasions, Mha Puja is for each and every member individually. Newa traditions are ritual filled. Newars are famous for the numerous festivals they celebrate and the extravagant feasts they enjoy. A lot of these involve worship of the Divine, as with other Hindu, Buddhist or other traditions. Some of the occasions are unique to Newars. An example besides Mha Puja is the Ihin, the process of symbolic marriage of Newar girls before puberty to lord Vishnu so that they are never widowed. These traditions unique to Newa culture are designed to suit Newar beliefs on life and surrounding nature. The grandeur with which Newa traditions are observed can hardly be found elsewhere. Mha Puja exemplifies the uniqueness of Newa traditions. Mha Puja is unique amongst the various Newa traditions in that it is the only occasion when a person worships himself or herself. Because of religious and social implications and the understanding it tries to bring about oneself and the surrounding nature (Dhaubhadel M. N. 2017 p.56)
Mha puja is important for understanding oneself and respecting one’s role in the world. It is said that understanding self makes one unselfish and more responsible. The elements are also recognized as the symbols of the world. The Mandala is symbolized as the world, fruits and sagan as the offering made by the earth. Moreover, the celebration and feasting by family members with Itaa lights around the Mandala help to strengthen the family relationships.’ (Bossnepal, 2017)
4.4.2. Celebration of Mha-Puja in Norway
28321002315845Celebration of Mha-Puja in Oslo 2016. Phot Source is Manohar Pradhan.00Celebration of Mha-Puja in Oslo 2016. Phot Source is Manohar Pradhan.2887980187960During the Tihar festival a combined Mha-Puja event was organized on 31st of October 2016. All the participants are invited by Mr. Nayan Malla and her wife for the celebration of the festival at their private house in Oslo. There were 28 Nepalese participants who are from the Newar community and living in Norway. Most of all are introduced with each other before, however some of them met there at the first time. Some of them are the relatives of the Malla family and some of them are only their friends and colleagues. Among the participants there were 13 adult female, 9 adult male and 6 children. Baji (Bitten rice), Dayekulaa (Boiled meat with spicy), Musya (Soybeans), dishes of potato, pickles Newari food dishes were already made before the formal ritual of the Mahpuja started about at 6 in the evening. Some of the participants arrived late because they had to finish their jobs. However they joined the program in between.
As a normal procedure of the festival first Manda (Mandala) was made in the floor. And the worship was started the same way as when worshipping God. But, the Itaa were not lighted because it was not available. Likwise, Jajanka was also not available there. However, Swagan and verities of fruits, nuts and the sweets were offered to all the participants in the celebration. After that the prepared Newari food is tested by the participants. At the end an entertainment event of singing in a group was organized within the participants and then the celebration was concluded.
While observing Mha-Puja in Nepal, all the family members gather and celebrate at their own house. But, this time it was celebrated jointly with in a big mass of members of some families. I was with my wife and daughter in the event. Though some of the required elements ( eg: itaa, jajankaa) were not there, all the participants took it enjoyable and recalled the celebrations in the past years in Nepal got some emotional.
Observing the Mha-Puja in Oslo within a specific group from a particular community (Newar community) gives the message that all the Nepalese of Norway do not observe the same festivals or they are divided to have different occasions of festivals as per their ethnicity or community. They are more interested and observe the festivals based on their own ethnicity and community. It was also observed that the participants are more enthusiastic and emotional while observing the festival in Oslo then in Nepal.
There are public holidays in Nepal. But in order to observe the festivals in Norway, the immigrants are not provided holidays on the days of the festivals in Norway. So, to make a time for the celebration on the particular day of the festival is one of the challenges of observing the festivals for the immigrants. This is what noticed in celebrating the Mha-Puja because some of the participants only could come at the mid or at end of the function.
Other Nepalese Festivals celebrated in Norway:
Beside Dashain, Mha-Puja and Indra-Jatra festivals, some other festivals are also celebrated in Norway by the Nepalese immigrants. From some years before, the Nepalese women’s festival, Teej have been celebrating as a public event by the Nepalese women in Bergen and Oslo. And NRNA, Norway have been organizing cultural program on the occasion of the Nepali New year (Bikram Sambat). In the program some national artists and local Nepalese artists preform Nepalese Dance, songs and drama. I noticed that the Nepalese immigrants in Oslo celebrated Laxmi-puja, Deusivailo program and Vai Tika events during the Tihar festival. The Laxmi Puja and Vaitika were organized in a private residences of some the Nepalese families. And the Deusivhailo program was led by Jana Samparka Samiti, Norway to observe in some of the residences of Nepalese immigrants in Oslo. I could also notice that Christmas was celebrated a Nepalese family in Oslo. I noticed in the facebook that a Holi festival was celebrated within the Nepalese community in Bergen and Oslo. Besides the festivals mentioned above, some of the Nepalese family and individuals in Norway also celebrated some festivals, such as Yomari Punhi, Maghe Sangranti, Ashadpandra, Srawan Sankranti at their residence. On the occasions, they invited their friends and enjoyed some special Nepalese foods belonged to the festivals.
Summary and Conclusion of the Chapter
The aim of the chapter is to examine how the Nepalese festivals are celebrated in Norway comparing how they are celebrated in Nepal with its religious and cultural context. There are many Nepalese festivals which are based on different religions, cultures of different ethnic groups. Dashain, Indra-Jatra and Mha-Puja festivals are selected to describe here in this chapter. The selected festivals are taken as some of the most important festivals celebrated in Norway. The discussion is focused to the way and circumstances of celebration of the chosen festivals. Own experiences, empirical observations and interviews by the researcher are the main sources of the discussion.
Dashain is considered as the biggest festival of Hindus. Though the festival is based on the Hindu religion, these days it is celebrated as a national festival. The ritual of the Dashain is discussed in this chaper. On the basis of the discussion mentioned above, most of all Nepalese immigrants reside in Norway also celebrate Dashain. They celebrate Dashain in different cities of Norway. Some of the Nepalese living in Norway observe Dashain though it is not their primordial festival. It is because they are not Hindus and they don’t have the culture to celebrate Dashain in Nepal. They take part in the gatherings of the Nepalese for the social get-together. Some the The Nepalese immigrants in Norway celebrates Dashain at their own residence with family members or friends and some of them go to the gathering organized by the Nepalese organization for the celebration of Dashain. The functions of all the days of Dashain are rarely observed by the Nepalese in Norway as they do in Nepal.
Indra-Jatra is a major festival Newars community of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Indra-Jatra is considered as thanking day to lord Indra for the rain. ‘Indra-Jatra, also known as Yenya, is the largest street festival in Nepal. Interesting story myth related to this festival is also presented in the chapter. With some limitation in 2016, the Indra-Jatra festival was celebrated among the Nepalese immigrants and some foreigners in Oslo, organizing a gathering event. In the event, including traditional Lakhe dance, Puluksi dance and the Kumari dance, other cultural dance, songs and play were also presented. Likewise Newari food was also offered to the participants. It was a first grand celebration in Oslo there was not chariot to march and sacrifices as it happens in Nepal during the celebration. It was observed in Norway just as a representation of the festival. It is the celebration but not fulfilled all the rituals.
Mha-Puja is celebrated on the fourth day of Tihar by the Newar community. Mha-Puja Puja literally refers to self-worship, making offering to one’s body. For the celebration of the festival there are certain general rituals. The rituals have its distinctive meanings. The detail of the rituals is discussed in the chapter. A combined celebration of Mha-Puja is discussed as a one of the important Nepalese festivals celebrated in Norway. It was organized in October 2016 in a private residence of Nepalese family in Oslo where I took part as a participant. During the celebration, a normal procedure of Mha-Puja was made and the participants enjoyed with the Newari food and the some entertaining activities. Though it was very impressive event, it was not feasible to attend all the rituals and stuff as it is observed in Nepal.
Beside the festivals, some other festivals are also celebrated in Norway by the Nepalese immigrants. Some of the festivals are observed at their residence with their family members and friends. And some of them join group events organized by individual families or the Nepalese organizations.
GENERAL INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS
The aim of this chapter is to analyze the issues related to the celebrations of the Nepalese festivals in Norway. This chapter is presented as an analysis of the individual interviews for this research. The finding of the critical consequences while observing the festivals are discussed here. The consequences are imperative to understand the challenges of the Nepalese immigrants observing Nepalese festivals in Norway.
In the chapter some of the specific questions of this research are tried to answer. Such as: What are the circumstances that made them difficult or easy to celebrate the festivals in abroad (Norway)? Do the immigrants modify the way of observing festivals? Do they have the mixed or dual (Norwegian-Nepali) style of observing the festivals? What function do the festivals have for the Nepalese in Norway for intercultural communication and to preserve national identity? In order to answer the questions in the chapter the important issues appearing in the interviews are discussed such as Preserving Cultural and National Identity, Significance of family in observing the festivals, Political Issue related to challenges of observing festivals, Aspects of Religion, Ethnicity and Cultural backgrounds and Daily life style of Nepalese Immigrants in Norway.
Issue of the Preserving Cultural and National Identity
As it has discussed in the previous chapters that Nepal is a small country in the globe and it is there are multi-cultural, multi-cultural country. There are many ethnic groups and communities with their distinct historical, linguistic and cultural background, maintaining the separate yet related cultural traditions come to be collectively known as ‘Nepali Culture’. As per the global trend Nepalese are spreading as immigrant in different parts of the world for different proposes. While they immigrate, they bring their culture and national identity with them. And when they celebrate their festivals in overseas, it explores their national culture and identity in that land.
By celebrating the Nepalese festivals abroad, the immigrants are not only enjoying for themselves, at the same time, they are also preserving, revitalizing and transmitting their culture and National identity. In the same way, the Nepalese immigrants in Norway are also acting to preserve their culture and national identity. As the informant no. 4 stated:
“Celebrating festivals in abroad means a lot. It reminds you your culture, your religion, importance of your family which all you miss here. The celebrations also mean that you are preserving your culture and at the same time your identity as Nepali.
During the interviews and the observation of the festivals I find the Nepalese immigrants are concern about preserving Nepalese cultural and national identity.
Concerns of teaching the Nepalese cultural to next generation:
Nepalese Immigrants are concerned to teach their culture to their children. During the interviews they are expressed that they also one of the advantages of observing festival is it helps their children to learn Nepalese culture. For example informant no. 5 mentioned:
“The celebration of the festivals in the abroad is helpful to let the children or the second generation understand or learn the festivals and culture. The celebrations are helps to preserve and national identity because the festivals are one of the parts of the culture. And the national identity only reflects through culture and language.”
Likewise informant no. 3 also mentioned the concerned about the handover of the culture to the next generation. She said:
“It has big importance of observing festivals in abroad. Of course, It preserves the cultural and the national identity and feeling. We can have our existence in abroad as a Nepalese by celebrating the festivals. It also helps our next generation to understand our cultural identity.”
Through their view, it is understood that they are convinced that celebration of festivals preserve the cultural and national identity. They are sure that when they observe the festivals with their children, it will help the children to learn about the culture. And they want the next generation to learn about the culture though they are living in abroad.
Small Number of Nepalese immigrants in Norway
During the interviews and the field visit, I found that there is small number of Nepalese immigrants in Norway. Though they are few, they are from different backgrounds and they seem to have cultural tolerance while observing the festivals. Moreover, some Nepalese organizations are facilitating them to celebrate the festivals. And the activities of the Nepalese immigrants and the organizations are helping to preserve the Nepalese cultural and national identity in Norway.
Since it is not that easy to know the exact number of people with Nepalese origin living in Norway, it has been estimated that there are between 1500 to 2000 Nepalese living in different parts of Norway based on the information provided by different Nepalese societies in the major cities of Norway. (NRNA, Norway, 2016) The limited population of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway is not able to influence so much on Norwegian society when exposing the Nepalese cultural and National Identity. Though because of the celebration of festivals in a groups or individual at their residence, directly or indirectly making impact for the preserving the culture and the national identity.
Nepalese Immigrants with different backgrounds and cultural tolerance
As Nepal is a multicultural and multilingual country, the Nepalese immigrants in Norway have also different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Similarly the backgrounds of the informants are also diverse. Through the interview we found that though they are from the different ethnic groups and cultures, they respect and participate to others’ cultural activities during the celebration of the festivals. For example the informant No.6 who is from Tamang community said that:
“Though Dashain is not the main festival and we don’t give it much priority in Nepal. I celebrated Dashain in Norway.”
It means that he takes Dashain as a common festival to celebrate Nepalese festival in Norway. Among the Nepalese immigrants, they have emotional bond though they are from different ethnic groups and caste. To verify the statement an opinion of the informant no. 4 can be taken as an example:
“All Nepalese I met here are so kind and respectful to each other. I met some women from the Newar community who never celebrated Teej in Nepal, they are taking part in the gathering of Teej festival here in Norway. I think that when they are here in Norway far from the own country, they take the Teej festival as a Nepalese festival though it is only celebrated by the women from the Bramhan, Kshetri community in Nepal.”
Informant no. 7 also supports that while celebrating the Nepalese festivals in Norway there is feeling of cultural tolerance and inclusion. He says that:
“Here is no division in the name of ethnicity or caste. But, in Nepal, there are different festivals observed by particular ethnic groups. For example: Newar observe Yomarhipunhi, but chhetri don’t observe it. Tamang observe lhosar, but other ethnic groups don’t observe it.”
Not only the opinions of the informants, but also my experiences during the observation of the festivals in Norway support that though the Nepalese immigrants living in Norway have different background of culture, there is cultural tolerance. They respect the each other and don’t hesitate to take part in any festivals belonged to Nepal.
Presence of the Nepalese organizations for facilitation
During the research and the interviews it is found that some Nepalese organizations are active to organize public events for celebration of the Nepalese festivals. Activities of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), Nepali Bergen Society (NEBERS), and Nepalese Students Community in Oslo (NESCO) are discussed by the informants during the interviews. The organizations mainly organize the events of gathering for the celebrations of Dashain, Tihar, Teej festivals. The organizations have the main objectives to do welfare of the Nepalese community and observe/preserve Nepalese culture and festivals in Norway through different activities. They are promoting Nepalese culture, traditions and language through their different activities on different occasions of the festivals. Beside the formal organizations mentioned above, a committee of a Newar community (an ethnic group) was also form to celebrate Indra-Jatra. Informant no. 6 mentioned:
“Dashain has been most significant for me. On the occasion of Dashain there was an event of gathering organized by NESCO (a Nepalese student’s organization in Norway). I attended the event where I could meet many Nepalese.”
Informant no. 3 also stated the name of the organizations. She said:
“I find most of all the Nepalese love to observe the festivals here. This is very good. There are also some Nepalese organizations like NRNA, NESCO, NEBERS which are facilitating the Nepalese by organizing the events and the gathering on the occasions.”
All the informants agreed that celebrating or observing the festivals helps to preserve culture and national identity. Informant no. 6 said:
“It is natural that when someone is out of their own country, they miss their family, community, festivals. When they observe the festivals in abroad, it makes them more affectionate to their national feeling and feeling towards their culture and tradition.”
The arguments stated above say that when the immigrants celebrate the Nepalese festivals in Norway, they are contributing for preserving the national culture and identity of Nepal. One of the concerns of the immigrants is teaching the Nepalese culture to the next generation so that the Nepalese identities remain to them. The discussion also shows that though the population of the Nepalese immigrants is limited in Norway, they have diverse background of cultures of Nepal. However, they respect each other and most of all celebrate the major festivals of Nepal. And for the celebration, the Nepalese organizations in Norway are assisting by organizing different events on the occasions of the festivals.
Significance of Family in observing the festivals
There is no doubt that the festivals cannot be celebrated alone. To celebrate the festivals, there must be company of other persons. It can be family members or relatives or friends or any intimates. As the family is the basic primary group of the human beings, mostly the festivals celebrated among the family members. Festivals are an expressive way to celebrate glorious heritage, culture and traditions. They are meant to rejoice special moments and emotions in our lives with our loved ones. Most of the festivals are celebrated within the family members and they made amusement spending time together. Even though Nepal is a very ethnically diversified homeland, it has common social family structure. In general, people are living in joint family system at a home. For them the family members mean not only father, mother, daughters and sons. Grandfather, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces all are considered family members. Almost all the festivals in Nepal are celebrated within the family. It indicates the necessity of the family and the intimacy of an individual with the family during the celebration of the festivals.
The Nepalese immigrants in Norway realized the important roles of family, relatives and the friends while observing the festivals. During the interviews, all the informants expressed that they miss their family members or relatives living in Nepal in the period of festivals.
For an example of thoughts of:
Informant no. 1, “It is bit uncomfortable here because the family and friends circle are not here as in Nepal.”
Informant no. 4, “There is not much gathering with friends and relatives here as it is in Nepal. I cannot be with my full family, relatives and friends. Full family means my parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncle, aunts, and cousins.”
Informant no. 5, “In general we celebrate the festivals in Nepal with the lead of the seniors or the elders at home. They give instructions about the processions of the festivals. But, here we don’t have them and we don’t know all the processions as far as we understand.”
Informant no. 7, “In our Nepalese culture we enjoy to celebrate with family. But, here I don’t have family. In the family they have different roles of the family members while celebrating the festivals.”
On the bases of the interviews and the interaction during the observation of the festivals I analyzed that the Nepalese immigrants realize the importance of the family more when they are far away than they feel when they were in Nepal. The absence of the family members makes the festivals disconsolate abroad though they try to celebrate the festivals with some family members, friends or relatives living here in Norway. However, they expressed that without the presence of family members, the celebration of the festivals is incomplete.
Political Issue related to challenges of observing festivals
During the research, for observing Nepalese festivals in Norway some political issues related challenges of Nepalese immigrants are noticed.
‘Nationalism’ is a political term. Since the research is focused to the challenges of observing festivals it can be understood that Nepalese-Nationalism is the core to unite the immigrants for celebrates the festivals. Though all Nepalese don’t know each other, they gather to celebrate the festivals, they feel they are attached (different from other nation’s people) and closer. It is because they think that they have the same national identity. As Benedict Anderson puts it, a ‘nation’ is imagined, the situation of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway can be understood with his concept. As he introduces a concept of ‘Imagined Communities’ in political sciences and sociology through his book ‘Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism’, Nationalism of Nepalese Immigrants can be described as a bound of imagined community. Anderson stated that the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their community. Members of the community probably will never know each of the other members face to face; however, they may have similar interests or identify as part of the same nation. Members hold in their minds a mental image of their affinity. Even though we may never see anyone in our imagined community, we still know they are there through communication.(Anderson B. 1983) During the interviews the informants said that they take part in the gathering of the Nepalese for the celebration of the festivals in a group. There they all are not introduced with each other. They are only bound because they know that they are Nepalese. They have of the similar interest and identity as a part of the same nation.
Some of the informants indicated that the national rule or policy affects on the celebration of the festivals. They said that on the day of the celebration of the festival, they have to manage free from office or school. There is not given holiday on the day as it is given for the festivals of the Norway. Some of the informants suggested that it would be easier to celebrate the festivals for the Nepalese if they are given free from the work or school on the occasions of the festivals. In this regard, informant no. 6 says that:
“Nepalese organizations existed in Norway have to attract the Norwegian government to assist for making the celebrations more accessible to the Nepalese immigrants so that the government may make policy to provide the holidays to the Nepalese immigrants for celebration of the festivals.”
During the interviews, it is also found that the Norwegian government is supporting somehow to the immigrants for the celebration of their own festivals. According to the participant no. 5, the government is funding some amount to NEBERS. And the amount they are utilizing to preserve the festivals. He says that:
“I know that the Norwegian government provides certain funds to a group or community which has distinct culture, tradition and festivals so that they can observe their cultural festivals. It means a respect and support for the group and community. We have formed a Nepalese Bergen Society (NEBERS) which initiates to organize gatherings for the celebrations of Nepalese festivals and preserve it. NEBERS is also getting fund, 20,000 kr. annually from the Norwegian government.”
While observing Nepalese festivals in Norway, the Nepalese immigrants express the similar interest and identity as a part of the same nation. It is defined as Nationalism, political idiom comparing the thought of the Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Community. Because of the national rule of the holidays in Norway, Nepalese immigrants find complicated to manage time for the celebration of the Nepalese festivals in Norway. However, it is also found that the Norwegian government is supporting some fund to some of the Nepalese organizations for their activities to preserve the Nepalese culture in Norway.
5.5. Different Circumstances between Norway and Nepal
Because of some distinct circumstances between Nepal and Norway, the celebrations of the festivals are affected. Through the research, it can analyze the different aspects such as culture, weather and physical structures also influenced the way of celebrations of the festivals. It is noticed by the informants that in some cases the way of celebrations are also modified. Some following examples of the opinions and experiences of the participants can help to understand the influence of the way of festivals:
Participants no. 5, “In general we celebrate the festivals in Nepal with the lead of the seniors or the elders at home. They give instructions about the processions of the festivals. But, here we don’t have them and we don’t know all the processions as far as we understand. To manage suitable timing for all the family member is another challenge. Other thing is: all the logistic material and costumes what we need for the festivals are not possible to be provided here. For example: last year I supposed to celebrate Yomarhipunhi. To celebrate the festival, we have to make Yomarhi (Special food made by the flour and sweet). The flour should be grinded by the rice and should be smooth. I bought rice flour from the market. But, I did not work to make the Yomarhi. I could not make the shape of Yomarhi by the flour. To make the Yomarhi, the rice must be grinded in the mill with some particular technique. I came to know it later after I talked with my family in Nepal. Other circumstance is trouble of venue to celebrate the festivals. For example: In Laxmipuja we light the candles in a whole building. We start lighting candle from the Aagan (Free space of the main entrance of the building) but the building in Norway are extremely sensitive for the fire. We are not allowed for lighting candle as much as we desire. The buildings are with the apartment systems living many families. It is not like the building in Nepal of only one family. So, it is also not possible to light the candle from the Aagan and in the whole buildings.”
Participant No. 3, “Some of the Nepalese festivals are celebrated outsides, not inside the home. For example: Holi-Purnimaa is celebrated at the second half of February or the first half of March. It is the festivals of color. The participants of the festivals throw the color dust and the water to each other. But, in that timing in Nepal winter is almost is finished. But, here in Norway it is still cold and difficult to play with the water. I have also an example of feeling through air. In the timing of Dashain and Tihar there is fragrance of Marigold flower in the hills and gardens of the houses. When we smell it, we feel like the festivals are coming. Here we cannot feel it.”
Participant No. 7, “There is a big difference. I can say that the observing the festivals here is just the copy or pretend of the original celebration of the festivals in Nepal. I cannot fully enjoy the celebrations here. The main lacking of here is the family, relatives and friends who I miss so much.”
The different culture between Nepal and Norway also created opportunities for Intercultural communication between the individuals or communities. The phenomenon of the celebrations of the festivals by the Nepalese community in Norway creates the direct or indirect intercultural communication with different cultures and social groups. There might be direct or indirect communications. For example: The outsiders (people from the different world than Nepal) can notice the activities of the celebrations and they can be aware it. If the outsiders are invited in the celebration events, they can communicate directly with the immigrants. If some Norwegians are invited to a gathering of Nepalese community for the celebration of a festival, they can directly see the activities of the celebration; they can experience the cuisine, costume, procession and information during the festival. Informant no. 3 supports this, saying:
“Sometimes we invite the non-Nepalese guests in the occasions; there are the opportunities of intercultural communications. While observing the festivals the local community is watching the activities and giving them some impression. I think that that is also indirect intercultural communication. Besides that, celebrations by the different communities or ethnic groups of Nepal also help them for the intercultural communication between them as well though they are from the same country. For example: Last year we organized Indra-Jarta celebration. There, non-Newar Nepalese could experience the way of celebrations of Indra-Jatra which is not usual for them.”
Thus, some distinct circumstances between Nepal and Norway affected for modifying the way of celebration the Nepalese festivals in Norway and it also helps also for the intercultural communication between Nepalese immigrants and different cultural and social groups existing in Norway.
Aspect of Religion, Ethnicity and Cultural background related to observing festivals
It has also discussed in the previous chapters that the people in Nepal are following different religions and religious faiths and observing the festivals based on the religions. Though the majority of the populations follow Hinduism, there are also other religions followed by Nepalese. The Nepalese observe the most of the festivals based on the religions. There are different festivals observed in the particular areas or the particular geographic or ethnic groups. The Brahman and Kshetri have almost same culture to celebrate the festivals. The Newars have their distinct way of observing festivals. The immigrants living in Norway are also from different background of religion, culture and ethnicity. However, they are influenced by their backgrounds. For example: All the informants said they celebrate Dashain and Tihar as a common festival. Still there are variations in the way of celebrations and acceptance of the festivals, as Informant no. 3 mentioned:
“Though the Nepalese’s population in Norway is not so big, the individuals are from different ethnic communities or from different geography of Nepal. Since Nepal has diversity of the Ethnic groups with the different cultural, it is natural that the Nepalese immigrants are also with the different background of their cultural, festivals and religions. For the immigrants it is not easy to celebrate all the festivals here. As far I know, some of the immigrants celebrate festivals based on their ethnicity.”
‘Dashain’ festival is a main national wide festival Hindus in Nepal. Though Dashain belongs to the Hindu religion, Nepalese immigrants in Norway celebrate it as common festival of Nepalese. During the research it is noticed that though the festivals are not relevant to the belonging religion and culture all the Nepalese, it is accepted or celebrated by almost all for social cause more than the religious or cultural cause. For example: Informant no. 6 said:
“I feel bit distress while observing Dashain here in Norway. It is because though Dashain is not my cultural festival and I used to celebrate it as a secondary festival in Nepal, here I had to observe as a main festival. I had to take part in the program for the social cause with the Nepalese immigrants here.”
One other example given by informant no. 4 can also support the social obligation as mentioned above. She said:
“I met some women from the Newar community who never celebrated Teej in Nepal, they are taking part in the gathering of Teej festival here in Norway. I think that when they are here in Norway far from the own country, they take the Teej festival as a Nepalese festival though it is only celebrated by the women from the Bramhan, Kshetri community in Nepal.”
The signs of caste system as a cultural and religious part of the society are still presence in Nepalese society. However, it is found that there is mutual harmony and respect between the Nepalese people in Norway regardless of any caste and culture. The informant no. 7 said that there is. He mentioned:
“I did not find any signs of discrimination within the Nepalese community. I found them all united for the sake of Nationality and brotherhood and sisterhood. During the stay in Norway, I understand that the civilization and the law of this country heat and don’t allow any kind of discriminations. It is believed here all has right to live with respect. I found the behavior as the belief. I am really impressed with this.”
The explanation of the informants are supporting that though the Nepalese immigrants from different background of religion, culture and ethnic group in Norway, there is mutual harmony between them and it is also seen while they are observing the festivals combine in a group of Nepalese immigrants.
Daily life style of the Nepalese Immigrants in Norway
It is noticed that most of the Nepalese immigrants are students in Norway. They are struggling for their study and for survival. So, they have to give more time for the struggle more than give time to amusement activities like celebrating festivals. Though some of the immigrants are established or doing professional jobs, they are busy with their work and daily life. ‘Majority of the Nepalese, who come to Norway, are still students because Norway has been an attractive country for higher education for several reasons. Among them who are already settled here, many of them are holding very high professional jobs such as engineers, doctors, nurses, professors, financial experts, researchers, government jobholders etc’. (NRNA Norway, 2016) However, both categories of the Nepalese are busy with their daily assignments and routine.
5.7.1. Challenges of Time Management
During the observation and the interview, I could find that one of the major challenges of the Nepalese immigrants living in Norway is manage time for the celebration of the Nepalese festivals. Most of the informants mentioned the common challenge for celebrating the festivals is time management. The main challenge of the time management is that they need to apply for the permission to get free from the school or work because there is not holiday on the occasions of the particular day of the festivals.
Some examples of informants’ thought regarding the time management:
Informant no. 6,”The main thing is on the day of the festival, it is difficult to get free from the work and the school. By chance if we get the free, my wife may not get the fee on the same day. And it is also same to the friends. We cannot arrange gathering for the celebrations.”
Informant no. 3,”Because we follow the calendar of Norway for our daily life here. But, the Nepalese festivals are not included there. We don’t get free from the office to celebrate the festivals unless we request for the leave from the job.”
Informant no. 5,”Main aspect I feel uncomfortable is: In the week days, we cannot manage our time in the family for meeting at home. And we don’t have time to organize for the celebrations.”
Informant no. 7, “There are some difficulties for the celebration of the festivals here. The main difficulty is my priority and the schedules. I am here to study and at the same time I have to work for my survival. These are the main priority of the stay in Norway. In my experiences, in most of the days of the festivals, I did not get free from the assignment of the study or from the work or from both. I could not take free. Though I could manage time on these days, it is difficult to get company from the friends who are from Nepal. I cannot celebrate the festival alone.”
5.7.2. Limited Celebration
Though it cannot be measured the degree of the celebration, the precession and volume of the celebrations of the festivals by the Nepalese immigrants are limited than these festivals are celebrated in Nepal. There is lack of required stuffs for the processions. The participants (Family members, relatives and friends) are missing. All of the informants feel comfortable and happy to celebrate the festivals in Nepal rather than in Norway. The frequency of the celebration in Norway is also less than in Nepal.
Following saying of some informants support to the limited celebration of the festivals in Norway:
Informant no. 3,
“Here we cannot celebrate the festivals as it happens in Nepal. We don’t have relatives with whom we celebrate the festivals as we invite the relatives or we are invited by the relatives to celebrate it. Here all the material (such as materials for the puja) are also not available. But in Nepal we have all. We go to the different temples or the places for the celebration of the festivals in Nepal. However, here are limited places for the celebration. The weather of the Nepal is so nice and original for the occasions. But, here is different.”
Informant no. 5,”In Nepal I used to observe lots of festivals frequently. It used to be with the family members, relatives and friends. Here, it is difficult to meet them on the occasions. In Nepal, the festivals are observed also in almost all the houses of the neighbors and there is festive mood and atmosphere. Here we cannot feel that. We also can not enjoy the original test of the food and drinks which are especially made on the occasions of the festivals in Nepal for example: local alcohol, buff meat, bitten rice etc.”
Informant no. 6,”We celebrate the festivals within the family and community of the same cast or ethnicity. But it is not possible. Here it is not possible to follow all the ritual and religious processions of the festivals because of the lacking of the material and participants. One cannot feel complete festival here in relation to the emotion and feeling.”
The Nepalese immigrants living in Norway are engaged with their professions Nepalese. On the occasion of the celebrating festivals they find challenge of the time management because here is not holiday on the occasions of the particular day of the Nepalese festivals in Norway. The precession and volume of the celebrations of the festivals by the Nepalese immigrants are also limited than these festivals are celebrated in Nepal. They find the celebration is incomplete because of the lacking of some particular stuffs required for the occasion and the absence of the complete family members. It is also found that the frequency of the celebration of the festivals in Norway is also less than in Nepal.
Summary and Conclusion of the Chapter
This chapter is about the analysis of the issues related to the celebrations of the Nepalese Festivals in Norway. On the basis of the information collected through individual interviews with the Nepalese immigrants, issues related to the challenges for celebration of the festivals in Norway are analysed. Through the interviews, the critical consequences and challenges while observing the Nepalese festivals in Norway are explored. In order to answer research questions some important issues related to the research are discussed point wisely. In the first part of the chapter, I discussed the function of festivals to preserve Cultural and National identity. Based on the interviews, I argue that though the Nepalese immigrants are in small quantity in Norway, they are from different backgrounds and they have cultural tolerance and mutuality while observing the festivals in Norway.
An argument of an informant is also noticed that though the festival is based on religion and he did not use to celebrate it in Nepal, he celebrates it in Norway only for the social cause or to be integrated Nepalese community in abroad. Supporting the Nepalese immigrants some Nepalese organizations are organizing various events and gatherings to celebrate the festivals. These activities of the Nepalese immigrants and the organizations are helping to preserve the Nepalese cultural and national identity in Norway. The Nepalese immigrants are more aware of the importance of the cultural and national identity while immigrants in Norway than they were in Nepal.
During the interviews the informants are conscious that while celebrating the presence of the family members are precious. They feel that without the presence of all the family members the festivals are disconsolate abroad, though they try to celebrate the festivals with available family members, friends or relatives living here in Norway.
Political issue related to the challenges of observing festivals is also discussed in this chapter. In Norway, the Nepalese immigrants have similar interest and identity as a part of same nation. Their nationalism is described as a bond of imagined community relating to the concept of Benedict Anderson. Some of the informants indicated that national rule or policy affect on the celebration of the festivals. Some of the informants expressed that on the days or occasions of the Nepalese festivals, it would be easier if they get free from their work or school. One of the informant informed that the Norwegian government is funding to a Nepalese organization and it helps to organize the events of the celebrations of the festivals. In the chapter it is also analyzed that the activities of the celebrations of the festivals by the Nepalese community in Norway creates opportunities for direct or indirect intercultural communication across different cultural and social groups. In some cases the ways of celebration of the festivals in Norway are modified because of the limitations and unavailability of some aspects as available in Nepal, such the particular stuffs used on the occasion and the family members.
In a similar way that the population of Nepal is diversified according to the religious, ethnic and cultural background, the population of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway are also diverse. Through the interview we found that though the informants are from the different ethnic groups and cultures, they respect and participate to others’ cultural activities during the celebration of the festivals.
There seems to be mutual harmony and respect between the Nepalese in Norway and there seems to be more interaction between various religious and caste groups among Nepalese in Norway than what is usual in Nepal.
Most of the Nepalese immigrants in Norway are students, though some the immigrants are settled with high professional jobs. Both the groups have the common challenge of time management for the celebration of the festivals.
By the analysis of the views of the informants, it shows that there are some challenges of celebration of the festivals in Norway and the celebration is limited in Norway than they celebrate the festivals in Nepal.
In conclusion, The Nepalese immigrants in Norway observes their festivals, though is assumed that as immigrants they are facing some challenges to do so. However, observing the festivals reflects their national identity in abroad. The celebration of the festivals is not only to provide refreshment to the individual but also seems to have a function to develop harmony and solidarity to their inter-ethnic relations and national feelings. It implements more effectively in abroad then in homeland. So, according to the interviews, the celebration of the festivals in abroad has significance for the immigrants.
This chapter concludes the dissertation with overall summery of the research, findings and discussions. And the chapter suggests research implication with brief recommendations as per the research findings.
The research was carried out to explore the overview of the challenges of the Nepalese immigrants to observe Nepalese cultural Festivals in Norway. This study has tried to find out the different challenges faced by these immigrants observing the cultural festivals in the diverse Norwegian society. The research also enlightens that how the identity of Nepalese immigrants is negotiated through their way of observing the festivals. However, the main research question is ‘What are the challenges of the immigrants from Nepal for observing their cultural festivals in Norway?’The researcher applied conceptual perspectives on immigration and identity and relevant approaches of identity; such as National identity, Cultural and Ethnic identity, Religious identity. The intercultural theories: Cross Cultural Theory’ of Young Kim and ‘Standpoint Theory’ by Sandra Harding and Julia T. Wood are also presented as theoretical perspectives for this research.
The research is designed using qualitative research approaches, methods and tools. Observations and Interviews are presented as the main data collection tools. During the research, I have carried out empirical observations of the different events and gathering for the celebration of Nepalese festivals in Norway. Dashain, Indra-Jatra and Mhapuja are chosen to describe in detail that how they are celebrated in Nepal and how they have been celebrating in Norway.And7 individual informants were chosen and they were asked series of questions related to the theme under investigation. The open ended interview method is chosen for the detailed interaction with the informants. The informants have different backgrounds of their caste, class and ethnicity. They represent the diverse Nepalese society. I collected the remained data through the primary sources.
The research findings are presented and interpreted in the thematic categories. The major findings of the research are mentioned as below as the challenges of the immigrants from Nepal for observing their cultural festivals in Norway:
6.2.1. Circumstances of celebrating the Nepalese cultural festivals in Norway
Most of all the Nepalese immigrants living in Norway observe the Nepalese cultural festivals in the limited way. They are not able to observe it as they used to do it in Nepal. They celebrate the festivals either at their residence with their family and friends or in the events organized by Nepalese organizations. The population of Nepalese immigrants is small or they are in minor group in Norway. In order to celebrate the festivals, the Nepalese organizations in Norway are assisting them by organizing different gatherings and events related to the festivals. Activities of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), Nepali Bergen Society (NEBERS), and Nepalese Students Community in Oslo (NESCO) are discussed by the informants during the interviews. The organizations mainly organize the events of gathering for the celebrations the major festivals such as of Dashain, Tihar, Teej festivals.
During the interviews, all the informants expressed that they missed their family members or relatives living in Nepal in the period of festivals. They realize the importance of the family more when they are far away than they feel when they were in Nepal. I found it as an emotional and psychological condition of the immigrants.
Throughout the research, it was also noticed that Nepalese-Nationalism is the core to unite the immigrants for celebrating the festivals. Though all Nepalese don’t know each other, they participate in the gatherings to observe the festivals; they feel warm and closer to each other. It is because they think that they have the same national identity.
It is also found that the Norwegian government is supporting to the immigrants for the celebration of their festivals. According to the informant, the government is funding some amount to Nepalese organization. And they are utilizing the amount to observe the festivals. The act helps to preserve their culture.
In this context, the Nepalese who have been migrated to Norway as immigrants for different purposes are following Nepalese culture to some extent. They are observing different religious and cultural festivals of the Nepal in a group or within the Nepalese community in Norway. They also speak the languages and dressed up in the different cultural occasions or in the festivals. They love to listen and enjoy with the Nepalese music and they have not left completely the culture of Nepali cuisine. The social habit of the Nepalese society still exists with them. The culture based festivals are reflects national identity
Adjustment and modification in the way of celebration of the festivals in abroad:
Through the research, it is analyzed that the immigrants have modified the way of observing festivals. It is because of diverse circumstances of Nepal and Norway. During the celebration of the Nepalese festivals, there are different roles and responsibility of the family members and relatives. Since all the family members and relatives are not available, the processions of the festivals are also not completed. Almost all the Nepalese immigrants are not living with the entire family members and the relatives in Norway. In such cases, it was found that they modified the way of observing festivals.
The distinct circumstances and the weathers of Nepal and Norway are the cause of modification of the way of observing festivals. All the logistic material and costumes what we need for the festivals are easily provided in Nepal. But, it is not as easy as in Nepal. In some cases, the pattern and structure of the houses and its structures are not friendly to observe the Nepalese festivals. Though in the conditions, they observe the festival with the adjustment. The unlikely weather and the environment in the festivals period also made the immigrants adjust the way of observing festivals. In such cases, the Nepalese immigrants have to adjust the observing festival without them.
The signs of drawbacks of caste system are not seen among Nepalese immigrants in Norway; they have mutual harmony and respect according to the informants.
Some of the informants indicated that the national rule or policy affects on the celebration of the festivals. They said that on the day of the celebration of the festival, they have to manage free from office or school because there is not holiday on the occasions of the particular days of the festivals. There is not given holiday on the day as it is given for the festivals of the Norway. So, the management of time for the celebration of the festivals is one of the challenges for them.
The frequency of the celebrations of the Nepalese festivals is limited in Norway than these festivals are celebrated in Nepal. The immigrants prefer celebrating the festivals in Nepal rather than in Norway.
Importance of Observing Festivals in abroad
By celebrating the festivals the immigrants are not only enjoying on their own, at the same time, they are also preserving, revitalizing and transmitting their culture and identity. The performance of observing Nepalese festivals in Norway by the Nepalese immigrants facilitates to introduce the national identity of Nepal. At the same time, the activities introduce the cultural, ethnic and religious identity of Nepalese societies among the Nepalese immigrants in Norway. The outsiders (people from the different nation and cultural background) could notice the activities of the celebrations and they could be aware about it. While they were invited in the events related to the festivals, they got changes to experience the cuisine, costume, procession and information about the festivals.
Throughout the research, It is also analyzed that the Nepalese immigrants took the observing the festivals as an opportunity to teach their children about their Nepalese culture and make them aware about Nepalese identity. The celebration of the festivals created opportunities for intercultural communication between the individuals or communities. The phenomenon of the celebrations of the festivals by the Nepalese community in Norway created the direct or indirect intercultural communication across different cultures and social groups. During the research, it was also found that the Nepalese immigrants are divided in various groups with their distinct cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Some of the informants expressed that they gained some new experience in Norway by observing the Nepalese festivals which are not belonged to their ethnic and religious backgrounds and never observed it in Nepal. They said that they had to observe it for socializing in Nepalese community in Norway. In this way, the Nepalese Immigrants maintained cultural tolerance. They took festivals as a culture or social cause more than the religious cause. Thus, there was the change of the interaction between the Nepalese immigrants on the occasions. Not only this, the intercultural communication between the individuals and communities of the different nations and the Nepalese who have distinct cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds also got change to interact with each other.
Implications and Recommendations:
This research is just a small window to stare the vast arena of scenario of the observing Nepalese festivals. It may not be a milestone or the guidelines for the related institutions and authorities but can be a piece of resource and subject matter who wants to investigate further deep and can be a mini document for the related institution, authorities and the future researcher in this field. This can be a resource for those who want to explore about the situation of observing Nepalese festivals in abroad. The findings of the research are helpful to those who seek more insight into the challenges of observing festivals in Norway for the Nepalese immigrants.
Hence, based on the findings and discussions above, following recommendations have been suggested to the related institutions, authorities and future researchers in observing Nepalese cultural festivals.
As the Norwegian authorities are providing fund as assistance to the Nepalese organization in Norway, the assistance should be continued so that the minor Nepalese community can observe the Nepalese festivals and conserve the Nepalese culture in Norway.
In order to give opportunity to observe the festivals, the Nepalese immigrants should be facilitated to take free from their occupation on the date of the festivals.
The Nepalese organizations which are organizing the events and gathering for the celebration of the festivals should continue the activities.
The organizations should arrange more events to celebrate more festivals related to more religions and ethnic groups of Nepal, as some of the Nepalese are taking part in the events even if the festivals are not belonged to them.
I think that there will be more chances of intercultural communication and interactions if the participants from different communities beside the Nepalese will be invited in the events arranged by the organizations. It helps the Nepalese culture and festivals to be exposed extensively. This research will provide a secondary source for the researchers. Thought the research is limited, it will obviously provide the researchers the new research areas of challenges of observing Nepalese cultural festivals in abroad.
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Appendix 1: NSD
Appendix 2: Interview Guide
Appendix 2: Research Information to Participants: