Australia’s Nepali community is once again ready to celebrate the ancient Hindu festival of Chhath.
This famous traditional two-day-long Hindu festival is dedicated to Surya Devta (Sun God) and Chhathi Maiyya (Goddess Shashthi).
The festival is prominently celebrated in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and some regions of Nepal.
Subansh Shah, the President of the Association of Nepal Terai in Australia (ANT-Aus), told The Australia Today that the Nepali community in Australia participates in Chhath to observe cultural bonding and promote social harmony amongst the diaspora.
Mr Shah observed:
“Our Association has continued re-enacting the rich ethnic culture of the indigenous community of Terai since it was founded and we feel respected that many Nepalese coming from different parts of Nepal irrespective of their caste, religion, language, cultural background joyously participates in Chhath celebration.”
He adds that Nepalese who do not belong to Terai region also participate in the annual Chhath puja in large numbers.
Chhath is celebrated six days after Diwali and on this religious occasion, the devotees worship the Hindu deities in the hope that their wishes would soon be granted.
Hindu women sing devotional songs and showcase their love for Chhathi Maiyya through a lot of colour fasting and simple but delectable food.
Kanchan Thakur, the General Secretary of ANT-Aus, says that they have been celebrating the Chhath puja every year with traditional fervour.
Ms Thakur adds:
“Our team celebrates both the sunset and sunrise puja with a large presence of community members and other distinguished guests. Team members prepare and plan puja meticulously. No doubt Chhath is a key celebration for our community and we are able to celebrate it together far from home makes us feels like being in touch with our cultural roots.”
Mr Shah adds that the Association feels both proud and excited to continue to organise every year one of the key festivals of Nepal in Australia.
“Community members associated with different organisations also help and cooperate with us to hold this beloved festival. As our community in Australia is growing day by day it has been very important to keep our traditional values and essence alive.”
A decade ago, the Nepalese diaspora only comprised less than 5000 people. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2022 data, it is the fastest-growing community in Australia.
There are now 122,515 Nepalese-born people living in Australia which is a 124 per cent increase in five years.
The growth of the Nepali community in Australia is positively driven by international students.
Dharbendra Prasad Yadav came to Australia in 2019 as an International student. He says that celebrating Hindu festivals in Sydney makes him realise how much he misses his family back home.
Mr Yadav observes:
“I am happy to see my community celebrating festivals and at times I do feel like I am close to my family. Due to my study and exams, I could not visit my home and celebrate Chhath with my parents and family. However, I am very happy attending ANT-Aus Chhath. I can’t wait to celebrate Chhath with my parents and family back home next year!”
Members of ANT-Aus feel that their community is earning a higher level of goodwill and celebrating a variety of unique and beautiful Nepalese cultural traditions would also help celebrate Australia’s multicultural diversity.
This year, the ANT-Aus family will celebrate Chhath puja on the 30th and 31st of October in Angel Park, Chipping Norton (NSW).