Letter to the Editor: Prashansha Maharjan

Today (Oct. 19) is Laxmi Puja, the third day of the Tihar, also known as Diwali. Instead of finding a way to celebrate in a land thousands and thousands of miles away from my hometown, I sit on my desk with tears pooling in my eyes, slowly dripping down my cheeks with an array of books, notebooks, pens, pieces of paper, and long lists of assignments, papers, and exams that I need to complete and prepare for before dawn breaks in less than 5 hours. I sit, close my eyes, and recall all the different ways I used to mark this auspicious day. But here I am, attempting to power through the grueling week that is mid-semester.

Why am I crying you may ask? Homesickness? No. It is the fact that our school loves to claim to strive to be diverse and celebrate all the different cultures that have come together at Concordia and yet, fails to do what really matters—inclusion. How could I possibly be in an institution that claims its mission as to create “thoughtful and informed men and women” when I can be certain that most of the population on campus had no idea that a major Hindu festival was taking place? Are all the flags that have so proudly been hung up in Knutson merely decorations to parade around or do they truly signify that the different people from different backgrounds actually matter to Concordia?

You may think that I am hurt because I did not get the day off. Granted, a day off would have been a great opportunity for me to be able to celebrate with other fellow Hindus in the Fargo-Moorhead community, but what I truly wish for is to be recognized. I would like people to know that other festivals in different communities exist and they are celebrated differently. No, I do not celebrate Easter, but did I know it existed 6 years ago? Yes.

As a secular country, one of the first things Nepal did was enforce public holidays during the festivals of other religious and indigenous communities. It is optional for the private sector to grant a day off. Nevertheless, all these auspicious days are marked on all calendars, including those that are entirely in Nepali.

I do not expect nor even want days off during Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim festivals. What I need is to be acknowledged and accepted and not made to feel alone. Education is important, but sometimes, awareness comes first.

4 Comments

  1. Wow- what complete obliviousness. Because Concordia doesn’t conduct a student-body wide stand-down to acknowledge events observed in Hindu cultures, this writer somehow thinks her humanity is being denied? That “she isn’t being acknowledged?” This is exactly what’s wrong with entitled, Millennial snowflakes– this.

    The author asks, “How could I possibly be in an institution that claims its mission as to create “thoughtful and informed men and women” while conveniently leaving off the rest of that declaration: “…dedicated to the Christian life.”

    She demands time off, for “celebrating with other fellow Hindus,” when the same demand to “be recognized” as a Christian for the thousands of Christian observances would be met with scoff and ridicule if made in her native country, Nepal, and even here at Concordia.

    It should not be required to inform Miss Maharjan that no one is denying her “awareness,” and that she is not “alone” simply because she doesn’t get her way. I invite Miss Maharjan to constructively let others know about Hindu holidays instead of making immature and self-centered gestures of entitlement on what she “feels” she is owed by our college.

  2. Prashansha, I am so sorry that you feel this way. We can certainly all do a better job of recognizing holidays from around the world, as it is diversity that makes us stronger. Please know that you are valued here at Concordia, and that you make our school a better place.

    1. David– you have nothing to apologise for. How does recognizing every little religious observation of the world make us “more diverse,” as your post implies it would? The only person on campus who thinks this is somehow a lack of recognizing or valuing her — is HER.

      There is probably a thousand different reasons how this writer “makes our school a better place;” throwing tantrums over imagined victim-hood is not one of them.

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