Swagatam — Welcome to Utpalasia! We are a family of multi-disciplinary artists – dancers, choreographers, musicians, designers, and cultural gurus who perform with resident demons and dance with gods, all to foster appreciation, understanding, and preservation of Southeast Asian and Himalayan traditional heritage.


Nepal’s Tihar in a Nutshell

Tihar is a five day festival celebrated in Nepal. The first day is dedicated to the crow (or kaag) who is seen as the messenger of death.

kaagtihar
Kaag Puja

The second day focuses on the dog (or kukur). Dogs are believed to lead the souls of the dead to the underworld. They are also honored as trusted and loyal companions of man.

Kukur-Tihar-01
Kukur Puja

The third day of Tihar combines the worship of goddess of wealth, Laxmi, with Gai (or cow) tihar. People clean their houses, place lamps, candles, and bright lights everywhere to ensure the goddess will find her way into their home.

laxmipuja
Laxmi Puja

Cows are sacred animals and symbolize the role of a mother. They are honored in a similar way to Kukur tihar, by being garlanded, worshipped, and fed special food.

gaipuja2

The fourth day of Tihar is Mha puja, or the worship of self. This is particularly important to the Newari community who also celebrates this as the start of a New Year. Other people worship the ox (or goru) since he is vital for farmers and villagers everywhere.

gorupuja
Goru Puja

The last day of Tihar is Bhai (brother) tika in which sisters honor and celebrate their brothers and pray for them to have long, healthy, and prosperous lives. While sisters place a particular tika on their brother’s forehead and offer gifts, fruits, and favorite sweets to them, the brothers also offer their sisters money and gifts, often clothing.

bhaitika3
Bhai Tika

During Tihar young people go about their neighborhoods and sing Deusi or Bhailo songs. These are a beloved style of traditional folk tunes. In return, elders will shower children with fruits, sweets, and money.

Cerdafied Dance Turns One!

Happy First Anniversary to Cerdafied Dance Studios in Alexandria, Virginia. We enjoyed that energetic vibe and watching students sample the many free demo classes. Tasherit worked on “Slowly, Slowly” with her group and their smiles said it all! If you’d like to experience Bollywood Fusion at its best, join her every Thursday evening from 6-8pm for fast-paced, challenging classes at Cerdafied. More info here: http://www.cerdafiedstudios.com/

cerdafied1YearTasherit
TasheritCerdafied
Tasherit & Bollywood Fusion Afterglow

Dashain Aayo!

nancydashain32019
Pote Market
Photo: Nancy Swyers

It’s holiday time again in Nepal! Navaratri has begun and people are on the move to rejoin their families and friends for the largest Hindu festival of the year. Bus tickets have sold out and local bazaars are jammed with enthusiastic holiday shoppers looking for traditional gifts of clothing and accessories for their loved ones.

dashainregmi
Dashain Goats
Photo: Anish Regmi

Thousands of buffalo, goats, chickens, and pigs will be sacrificed during Dashain. Curiously, goat meat is called “mutton” by Nepalis, while mutton to Westerners means meat only from a sheep.

Dashain symbolizes the triumph of Good over Evil and celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur on Mahanavami (the 9th day). This year Vijaya Dashami, the 10th day of the festival, will be celebrated on October 8. The auspicious time for receiving tika from elders has been determined to be 10:35 am.

We wish everyone a most joyous Dashain with all blessings, prosperity, and happiness!