Two Churches (The Church of the Holy Cross (Episcopal) and Ascension Lutheran Church) invites the community to join in celebrating Haritalika Teej, “a Nepali women’s Labor Day,” based on the extraordinary Hindu love story of Parvati and Shiva. The experience will be a feast for the senses, and an opportunity to learn how the women of the local Nepali community celebrate the holiday. This Nepali women’s celebration supports Two Churches English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.
The Nepali dinner and program for the public will be September 10, 2016 between 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.; Two Churches; 4252 Breton Rd. SE, Kentwood, MI. Tickets for the event are $20 and will be sold at the door. Seating is limited. Please reserve tickets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (616) 455-8108 if you do not have email.
Hartalika Teej, is a three-day, public holiday in Nepal and observed by women for the wellness of their family. The first day is celebrated with singing, dancing and feasting. The feast is hosted by men so women do not have to do anything during the day. For them, the first day of Teej is an official non-working holiday. The second day of the festival is dedicated to fasting. Married women fast for prosperity of their family, while unmarried women fast hoping to be blessed with a good husband. On the third day, women perform a purification ritual.
“Women attending the ESL classes came up with the idea for the fundraiser,” said Joel Flint, the volunteer fundraiser for the program. The event will consist of a Nepali dinner catered by the Mt. Everest Restaurant specializing in Indian and Nepali cuisine. The menu will feature Dal Bhat Tarkari Achar (a Nepali dish of lentils, rice and curry) served with Papad (a thin crispy bread), Achar (tomato pickle served on the side), Daar (a cucumber and yogurt salad), and rice pudding. The program, led by members of the class, will consist of story of Parvati and Shiva, music and dancing, and a brief talk about how the local Nepali community celebrates this occasion.
Since September 2011, Two Churches have provided ESL classes for elders of the local refugee community to help them improve their English language skills. This facilitates their participation with the larger community, and provides instruction which may lead to employment and citizenship. Many of our students have secured employment and several have acquired enough verbal and written English language skills to pass the U.S. naturalization examination.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that only 35% of Bhutanese (Nepali) refugees have a functional knowledge of English. Bethany Christian Services, which has 1,600 Bhutanese clients in Grand Rapids, reports that older Bhutanese struggle to navigate the complexities of life in Grand Rapids because of their limited English skills.