Fashion, food and fireworks:

Indian students

celebrate Diwali

ADRIANA GARMACEA | Collegio Reporter

Diwali, the festival of lights, is a rich cultural celebration in India and the Indian Student Association hosts its own celebration at PSU, giving students a taste of the various cultural aspects of their native country.
“It is nice to show our culture and wear all our traditional clothes,” said Navneet Kaur, president of ISA. “Even though I wear it normally, it feels good to wear it in front of people from other countries and represent ours.”

Nishjeet Mann, a member of the Indian Student Association, carries lights symbolizing enlightenment during the Diwali Festival of Lights in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of the Overman Student Center on Sunday, Nov. 6. Photo by: Yuyang Xiao/Collegio

Kaur says people in India show their happiness by lighting earthen “diyas” (lamps), decorating their houses, lighting firecrackers and inviting friends and family to their homes to partake in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of the lamps is a way of paying respect to God for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame. 
Last Sunday’s Diwali Night included a fashion show, a presentation on the festival and a choreographed Bhangra dance. The event also included classical music performances, examples of Bollywood dance, and traditional Indian foods. The celebration concluded with a bang as fireworks signaled the end of the show.
According to Kaur, the name Diwali comes from two words: “Deep,” which means “lamps” and “awali,” which means “rows,” so the entire word “Deepawali” means “row of lamps.”
“We celebrate it back home in almost every region of India and we do it by filling our household with lights and it is a very traditional occasion,” said Kaur, sophomore in accounting. “All the most important preparations have been made in the last month and that includes all the performances and presentations.”
Kaur says that they organize the event every year to get people involved as much as possible, and they attempt to involve students who are not from India.
According to Kaur, about 70 Indian students attend Pitt State.
“I am actually performing one of the numbers, which is a folk dance from the north region and there will also be a Bollywood show,” Kaur said. “As well as music performances with classical infusion.”
Traditional Indian meals were served, including chicken tikka massala, chicken cooked in cream sauce and spices. Guests also enjoyed the traditional Indian white bread called naan and a sweet mango lassi, made from yogurt and mango pulp.
“We tried to make the meals a little mild this time because Indian food is usually really spicy and not everyone is used to it,” Kaur said. “But we kept the exact taste from home.”
Kaur says that they got help for the event from the Student Government Association and companies like US Bank (through sponsorships).
“They really like our event and they want us to make it bigger every year,” Kaur said.
Students like Katie Laidler said they enjoyed the event.
“This is my first time experiencing an event like this and it was really amazing,” said Laidler, senior in early/ late childhood development. “I had a blast getting exposed to the Indian culture, especially since I was a part of the fashion show tonight.”
Ananda Jayawardhana, professor in math, oversaw the students’ preparations and saw the amount of work they put into it.
“It was challenging, but the result was very successful,” Jayawardhana said. “Indian students are special in many different ways. Mostly because they are well-prepared kids and they are always willing to contribute to others.”

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