Diwali Festival: Indian students shine light on culture

Olivia Hansen | Collegio Reporter

ast dance of the night before sending off the crowd for traditional Indian food.” src=”http://psucollegio.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/IMG_0654.jpg” alt=”Five ladies come on stage for the last dance of the night before sending off the crowd for traditional Indian food.” width=”695″ height=”446″ /> Five ladies come on stage for the last dance of the night before sending off the crowd for traditional Indian food.

Vibrant colors, delicious food and lively music filled the atmosphere in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom at the Diwali Festival of Lights on Saturday, Nov. 10. Diwali is hosted by the PSU Indian Student Association. Traditionally, the festival is a highly anticipated celebration marked by families performing various traditional activities in their homes.
“This is a festival that brings people together like family,” said Feni Amin, junior in biology.
Amin, among others, modeled traditional Indian garb and danced during the program’s Bollywood medley.
The Festival of Lights, in India, is traditionally celebrated to rejoice the return of Lord Ram, Sita, Laxman and Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Diwali is considered one of the most important and immensely cherished celebrations, lasting four to five days.

Chaitu Reddy painting the face of an attendee at the entrance of Diwali, Nov.10.

Chaitu Reddy painting the face of an attendee at the entrance of Diwali, Nov.10.

The Indian Student Association invited students and community members to come and celebrate the annual festival, while keeping the customs as close to tradition as possible by providing exciting performances and food.
“Dance shows were the best part of Diwali,” said Reeta Takkinen, exchange student in business management. “It was entertaining and the music was good.”
Takkinen says she enjoyed the dancing, though she found them simple and monotonous at times.
Collin Joy, an aspiring musician, performed several songs during a music medley, featuring music by artists like A.R. Rahman of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame, and he also danced during a Michael Jackson/Bollywood mashup.
“The invited guests gathered around and celebrated it in a way so that we don’t trifle the traditional values,” Joy said.
Diwali is recognized as an official holiday, not just in India, but in several other countries as well. It is celebrated over five days on the Hindu calendar and it uses many symbols. Lamplights are filled with oil to signify good over evil and fireworks drive the evil spirits away.
Amin says she likes Diwali because she gets to dress in festive and colorful traditional clothing, and she gets to see her family during the festivities.
“Normally, we don’t get to see all of our relatives,” Amin said. “But now we do because of Diwali.”
The festive celebration also featured a wide variety of traditional Indian foods. But an unforeseen delay meant the eager individuals who attended had to wait longer than planned to try the tasty food.
“The truck bringing the food was in an accident,” Amin said of the slight delay due to a minor traffic incident.
Once the food made it to campus, the students found it tasty and satisfying, but weren’t too ecstatic about the performances.
“The food was so delicious,” said Minna Karjalainen, exchange student in business management. “But for some reason, I actually expected a little bit more for $12. Sometimes it seemed that the dancers didn’t know their moves very well.”
The festival concluded with a fireworks display and students left with a vibrant picture of the Indian Student Association, and hopefully, more interested in Indian culture as a whole.
“I’m interested now,” Takkinen said. “I’d love to go to India, eat Indian food all the time and shop those fabulous, colorful fabrics they use.”

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