With its "Nepal Day" the South Asia Institute (SAI) of Heidelberg University wants to inform the public about the situation in that country after the devastating earthquakes in April and May. This is an Open Day on Friday, 3 July 2015, starting at 2pm, and is especially designed to attract interested members of the public. Academics from the SAI will give talks about the situation of the Nepali population, reconstruction measures and the general risk of earthquakes in the region. In addition, Nepal-related initiatives and associations will present their activities. Other attractions will include film projections, performances of music and dance, as well as a Nepali bazaar. There will be a special programme for children. Visitors can also enjoy tasting delicious culinary specialities from Nepal. In the evening there will be a SAI party, likewise with the theme of Nepal. The proceeds from the "Nepal Day" will go to a fund set up by the Association of Friends and Supporters of the South Asia Institute to support various aid projects. The venue is the SAI building, Im Neuenheimer Feld 330.
The South Asia Institute has been involved in research projects in Nepal for years and since 1987 has had a branch in the capital Kathmandu. After the two big earthquakes and a number of tremors, the SAI staff and friends’ association first launched an appeal for emergency relief, e.g. for a children’s home. As a second stage, the SAI now wants to provide long-term support, e.g. in rebuilding infrastructure or the reconstruction of destroyed cultural monuments. The projects supported by the SAI and its association of friends and patrons include e.g. the rebuilding of the massively affected town of Bungamati, or relief for older people, who were hit particularly hard by the repercussions of the earthquake. The SAI staff working in, or for, Nepal have taken on patronship for these activities. They are familiar with the local situation and some have personal working relations reaching back over decades. "That way we can guarantee that the donations are distributed non-bureaucratically and end up where they are needed," says Axel Michaels, who heads the Department of Cultural and Religious History of South Asia at the SAI and has himself worked in Nepal for years.
The "Nepal Day" will enable visitors to obtain direct information about the latest situation in Nepal and also gain deeper insights into the country’s history, culture and everyday life. The short talks will cover topics like Nepali artists and their reaction to the earthquake or the humanitarian relief given by young people. The presentation for children will introduce them to the way children live in Nepal. The Nepal bazaar will offer typical products from the country, including prayer flags, tea or hand-made paper. A donation is requested. The dances will be performed by visiting scholars from Nepal and all are welcome to join in. In the evening the "Nepal Day" will close with a party organized by the students at the SAI. Anyone interested is also warmly invited to attend.