The other days are used to worship other creatures, such as crows, which represent all birds, as well as cows.
Dogs are worshipped as part of Tihar festival rituals. Source: SBS News / Sarah Maunder
Another day is reserved to worship the goddess of wealth and prosperity. The final day is devoted to brothers and sisters, who vow to protect each other and prepare food, or buy clothes and cash to give to each other as gifts.
Australia’s fastest-growing migrant community
“It’s a very celebratory community, our culture is every day you celebrate something or other, and very quirky things too from an Australian perspective, like worshipping a crow, a cow, a dog, during Tihar.”
The number of Nepal-born people in Australia has increased since 2001. Source: SBS News
The number of Nepal-born people living in Australia has increased by 67,752 people since 2016, an increase of 124 per cent, the highest rate of growth of any migrant community. The community also recorded the second-largest increase in overall numbers, second only to the extra 217,963 people born in India who are now living in Australia.
Around 48 per cent of the community live in Sydney, 15 per cent in Melbourne, six per cent in Adelaide, five per cent in Brisbane and Canberra, and three per cent in Perth and Hobart. Another two per cent live in Darwin and one per cent live in Launceston. There are also small communities, consisting of hundreds of people, living in regional areas such as Newcastle, Toowoomba, Dubbo, Cairns and Bowral.
The top 10 suburbs for Nepal-born communities in Australia Source: SBS News
Prayas Karki and Gita Chhetri moved to Australia in 2015. Like many people from Nepal, Gita wanted to further her education. They visited Tasmania for a holiday and fell in love with it because of its similarities with their homeland.
“We have got three geographic areas in our country: The Himalayas, the hilly area, and the plains,” Prayas told SBS News at the weekend in Launceston.
Prayas Karki and Gita Chhetri are originally from Nepal. Source: SBS News / Sarah Maunder
The couple wants to make sure their children grow up knowing about Nepal and its cultural traditions. Festivals like Tihar are an important opportunity for everyone to get together, Gita said.
“But there’s undeniably a trend towards increased intake of people from Nepal.”
He said young Nepali people had tended to go to the United States or Europe after finishing high school to further their education but he believes Australia has become a more popular destination in the past 10 years or so because of the easier path to permanent residency, work opportunities and the laid back lifestyle.
We have 365 days in a year and we celebrate 364 days.
– Abhas Parajuli, SBS Nepali
The number of people speaking Nepali in Tasmania, Hobart and Launceston has grown since 2011. Source: SBS News
He said another reason why Tasmania has edged out areas like Darwin, which offers similar opportunities, is that the weather is also very similar to Nepal’s, and it’s a smaller community.
Parajuli said people also tended to go where they had friends or family. He said Nepali people in Melbourne tended to be from midwestern Nepal, and in Sydney, there are a lot of people from Kathmandu. Tasmania has a mix of people from many different areas.
At the Bhashalaya school in Tasmania, children learn about the Nepali language, cultural traditions and festivals, including Tihar. Source: SBS News / Sarah Maunder
The Nepali Society of Northern Tasmania (NSNT) established the Bhashalaya language school a few years ago to give a new generation of Nepali children born and raised in Australia the opportunity to learn about their language and culture.
“Now, [thanks to the school] we can see lots of children, they are talking to their grandparents in the Nepali language,” he said.
Celebrations bring the community together
But as attitudes have changed over time, Parajuli said the festival has evolved to become a festival of women, with women meeting up with female friends, sisters, mothers and other important women in their lives for separate events featuring dancing and food. Some men now even participate in the fasting.
Nepali women dancing as they celebrate Teej in Sydney on 30 August 2022. Source: SBS News / Dinita Rishal
Recent weekend Teej events held in Sydney were sold out for weeks, Parajuli said.
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