Dashain Chronicles at Home Away from Home

Dashain Chronicles at Home Away from Home
Photo by Shreeya Pradhananga / Unsplash

For as long as I remember, back home, every year, October brought a special kind of magic. The tender warmth of the sun, the clear blue sky, and the gentle touch of the cool breeze came together to create an atmosphere filled with Dashain vibes, and you could practically feel it in every breath you took. It was a time of long holidays at school, the excitement of shopping, temple visits, the preparation of special dishes, family gatherings, card games, and so on. Just thinking about it stirs up a whirlwind of memories and nostalgia. And every year, as Dashain approaches, these memories unfold, and I miss home a little bit more than usual.

I moved to the US about five years ago. Since then, five Dashains have come and gone. I’ve celebrated Dashain with family, without family- alone, working all day, with just a close friend, and with my parents. There are unique experiences and memories for each year.

This year, however, I felt like I celebrated Dashain in many ways as it used to be back home. It wasn’t quite the same, but it made me realize that when you pack your bags and move to a different city, country, or even continent, you carry with you more than just your belongings. You bring with you the essence of your culture and traditions, instilled by everyone around you- parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and even neighbors.

After five years away, I’ve found a sense of stability- mentally, emotionally, financially, and socially. And with this newfound stability, I rediscovered the nuances of Dashain that I had brought with me when I shifted. We went to the temple on the day of “Ghatasthapana” (Day 1 of the Dashain festival) and planted “Jamara” at home. Planning to get a “Khasi” (goat) and dividing among friends for Dashain brought back memories. We gathered at a close friend’s place, enjoying the essence of togetherness. Everyone was relaxed, playing cards, and savoring delicious food. The extensive Dashain shopping for special items took me down memory lane. The day before Dashami, as I hurried to prepare everything, I couldn’t help but feel my mom’s spirit. She would always be so busy getting everything ready that applying nail polish to her toes and fingers would be at the very bottom of her to-do list, marked off late at night. This year, that was me. I remember my parents discussing “Dakshina” and preparing for it, even color-coding the envelopes for different individuals. We did the same... LOL

The morning of Dashami was busy for us- showers, cleaning the house, preparing for the “Puja”, getting dressed- it was getting as festive as it could. We worshipped and put “Tika” and “Jamara” first at home, just as we used to, before heading off to our relatives’ places around the metroplex. The Dashain rush was palpable and comforting, just like the old days. Later in the evening as we returned home full of gratitude, I updated the whole day’s story to my parents. We even counted our “Dakshina” and, oh boy, I was beaming with joy like a kid. No doubt, this was the best Dashain I have celebrated since I left home.

As we wrapped up Dashain for this year and reflected on these experiences, my heart swelled with emotions. I realized that moving away from home doesn’t mean forgetting it or ceasing to miss it. But somewhere between longing and moving forward, you start to create your “home away from home.” With each celebration, you add new chapters to your “home away from home” story. You make friends who become like family, and you recall the memories through conversations every year. You relive those moments with the same joy and warmth while also starting to create new memories.

No matter how far you are from home, these connections and celebrations help bridge the gap between your roots and life abroad, keeping you grounded and connected, always. So, if you missed home this Dashain, I see you, and I feel you. But hang in there and trust me, eventually, you will find ways to celebrate. Moving does not mean leaving behind your culture and traditions. No matter where life takes you, they will always be a part of you, helping you create your own little piece of home, wherever you are! 😊