Remembering Hari Pariyar, Homer resident who died in January plane crash in Nepal
A Homer resident died in early January in one of the most deadly plane crashes in Nepal in more than three decades.
Hari Pariyar was traveling with three other family members on the thirty-minute plane ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The plane took a sudden dive less than a mile away from its destination, killing all 72 passengers, including the pilot and crew. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Pariyar was forty years old and is survived by his wife and three children. Two of his children and his ex wife died alongside him.
Pariyar was born in Katmandu, Nepal, the oldest child in a large and complex Hindu family. After both of Hari’s parents died when he was just 14 years old, the task of raising several younger siblings fell on him.
“He had to cremate [his parents] in the same way I just did for him,” said Pariyar’s widow, Corrina, who went back to Nepal for his funeral last month. “I don't know how to describe that. [It was] probably very difficult. Probably what I'm experiencing right now.”
Corrina said the two met on her first day traveling in Nepal nearly a decade ago, on the steps of the Swayambhu Monkey temple. The temple is unique. It’s considered a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists. Hari was raised Hindu and Corrina said she aligns with Buddhism.
Despite coming from two different religions, cultures and continents, the pair hit it off.
“He felt like home, he felt safe,” Corrina said. “It was an immediate connection. I'd never really felt that before.”
Corrina said they fell in love dancing to pop music at Kathmandu nightclubs and were married in Nepal after only two months, just before her visa was set to expire.
After returning home to Alaska, Corrina said she began filing the paperwork for Hari to immigrate to the United States. When her visa was renewed, she was on the first plane back to Nepal.
During the trip, she became pregnant with the couple's first daughter, Occia. Within a year of first meeting each other, Hari emigrated and settled in Homer. But the transition wasn't entirely smooth.
“He was a city boy,” Corrina said. “He was used to Kathmandu, Nepal, which is a huge, crazy city. So when I brought him to Homer, he was like, ‘You brought me to a village.’”
Corrina said he struggled at first, and that as a foreigner he stood out.
But, Hari was used to challenges. Although Corrina wasn’t aware of it before they were married, Hari was from the “untouchable” caste in Nepal, which ostracized him from higher social groups.
“People would call him ‘dalit,’ which hurt him a lot,” Corrina said. “His parents weren't allowed to touch certain things or people or they weren't allowed in certain places. There's a lot of rules for people that are low caste.”
Despite being hurt by it, Hari used the online platform TikTok to produce videos speaking out against the discriminatory system. And he had a pretty big audience in Nepal, with tens of thousands of followers. Some of his videos have been viewed millions of times.
“He was known,” Corrina said. “He wasn't nobody — he was somebody there. A lot of people knew him and thought he was really great and funny.”
One TikTok video features him with a giant grin in a “dhaka topi,” a traditional Nepalese hat, dancing beside a wood shed against a snowy, Alaskan backdrop.
“Eventually, his platform became more of him just singing and dancing,” Corrina said. “He just didn't want to fight anymore.”
In Homer, Corrina said, Hari was working odd jobs and gaining skills which he would then put to use building the home for the couple and their two young daughters.
“He would just offer himself up,” she said. “He's like, ‘Hey, does anybody need help?’ And he was there, he would do it. He was really proud of himself at the skills he was developing. He was really proud of the house he was building for us.”
Corrina said she hopes Hari will be remembered for his perseverance and tenacity.
“He had a lot of struggles in his life, but he didn't let that get him down,” Corrina said. “He tried really hard to be the best he could be. To be the best father, and you know, he was trying.”
And, she said, Hari was a great dancer.
A benefit is being held for the Pariyar family this Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Down East Saloon from 2 to 5 p.m., with a spaghetti dinner, live auction and local bands.
As of Thursday, a GoFundMe for the family had raised more than $28,000.