As Christmas is to Christians, Diwali is to Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. This year’s Diwali festival saw the Muenster University Center ballroom filled with food, music and dancing as students and faculty gathered to celebrate the colorful holiday.
Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It is a time of feasting, setting off fireworks and gift-giving. The festival usually lasts five days, each with its own observances and traditions; the USD Diwali event combined the festival into a single celebration.
“What we are celebrating here is the third day, which is the most important of those five days, and its basically an accumulation of those five days,” said Naivetya Patle, President of the Asian American Student Association.
The Asian American Student Association treated attendees to a video recounting the story of Diwali, as well as a Bollywood dance and a classical Indian dance.
Other performances included Ritesh Ray, a USD student, sang a popular song by Mera Mann. Finally, to conclude the event, members of the AASA performed a short skit about the importance of celebrating Diwali with family and friends.
Attendees received a dinner of naan bread, butter chicken, paneer tikka masala — a vegetarian curry — white rice and gajar ka halwa — a dessert made from carrots and milk.
Students had the opportunity to paint diya — small clay lamps — and receive henna tattoos.
Traditions can differ among observers of Diwali. Many honor Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth and fortune. Others, like student Ashmita Ghosh, celebrate other traditions.
“In my culture, we celebrate Kali Puja, which is for the goddess Kali,” Ghosh said.
Kali Puja is a ceremonial worship of the goddess Kali in the same way that other observers of Diwali worship Lakshmi.
Hindus, Sikhs and Jains may celebrate Diwali in many different ways, but the spirit remains the same across all faiths and cultures.
“At this point in the semester, it’s easy to lose sight of the really important things in life; Diwali reminds us to focus on the vital things: friends, family, love, community, charity, reflection, and gratitude,” Laura Chandler, director of the USD Center for Diversity and Community, said in her speech at the event.