Celebrating Nepal’s Monsoon Season

  • At the Rubin Museum's block party July 17 (Photos by Dipika Shrestha for Voices of NY)
A block party was held on July 17 by the Rubin Museum of Art to celebrate the monsoon season of Nepal.

West 17th Street, where the Rubin is located, was closed to traffic between 6th and 7th avenues for the event.

The celebration was inspired by the museum’s exhibition “Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual” which started in May and will continue until March 27, 2017.

Frogs were a recurrent theme: a huge frog design was at one end of the street, museum staff wore T-shirts with frog designs, and kids could make frog masks at one table.

“We really wanted to honor the way the Nepalese people connect to the frogs during this season,” said Olivia Buscarino, assistant manager of school and family programs at the Rubin Museum. “They make frog offerings around the time of the monsoon. So, we worked closely with our design team to get these beautiful frog T-shirts so that we have a really wonderful example of one way that the Nepalese people interact with the nature.”

In some parts of Nepal, farmers perform “frog marriages” in order to please the rain god and encourage rainfall – when, for instance the monsoon is late in arriving.

Kids and adults could engage in different craft-making activities, from creating rain sticks, to fashioning lotus flowers, to making “prayer flags” with colored sticky notes on which people wrote their wishes for the future.

Nepalese-inspired music and dance performances were warmly received by observers. Dikyi, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Sonam Rinzin and Kabina Maharjan peformed on the stage.

Kabina Maharjan performed a Newari dance. Maharjan, 35, said, “I always feel proud to showcase the Nepalese culture in this kind of platform.”

Newars are the historical inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley and its surrounding areas in Nepal, and the creators of its historic heritage and civilization.

Yangkee Lama, a resident of Elmhurst, was seen putting a “tika,” a blessing for good fortune, progress and prosperity, on the forehead of the participants at the event. Lama, who is also a volunteer for the Walung Community of North America, a nonprofit organization based in New York, said, “Nepalese have the culture of giving blessings and welcoming guests with tika. We are trying to let people know about this culture as well in this event.”

The tika (tilaka in Hindi) is generally a fragrant paste made with sandalwood or vermilion.

The block party also featured representatives from Nepalese community organizations such as Adhikaar, KathaSatha, Yulha Fund, and others. One, Grassroot Movement in Nepal, has a project to empower women in the Dang district of Nepal by training them in carpet weaving. A weaver demonstrated Nepalese weaving techniques at the block party.

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