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Vivek Sharma, alumni, plays a musical piece on his flute. Sharma and many other international students prepared for two months to share their heritage celebration. James Green

Students, community celebrate Diwali festival

Diwali, the “Festival of Lights,” symbolizes the victory of light over darkness for Indian people and for Indian students this November.  

The Indian Student Association (ISA) hosted a Diwali celebration night on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 5:30-9 p.m. in the Overman Student Center. 

“Diwali is an Indian festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-November, it is known as the Festival of Lights. The word ‘Diwali’ means “rows of lighted lamps”. It is one of the most glamorous and important festival celebrated in India. This festival uses many special symbols, including lighting lamps filled with oil and fireworks to signify victory over evil. Every year, hundreds of community members take part in this celebration to learn more about the festival and Indian culture,” Praveen Guraja, millennium database manager, said. 

Students and community members celebrated Diwali with ISA in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom. 

“We started preparing for this like, around last two months… We did the whole decoration, we have put lights there, we have used Diya, Diya is lamp, which we call it in Hindi… We just brought the Indian culture with our traditional dance and songs,” Kamya Sahay, graduate student in business administration, said. 

The ISA presented a variety of cultural performances including members performing choreographed routines and performing songs for the audience. 

“I’m really surprised by this event, it’s just so big… I feel like what really makes it is that they’re all really close friends in there, and when they’re up on the stage dancing… It really helps express their friendship…” Seth Snider, senior in manufacturing engineering, said. 

They performed a variety of cultural dances including the garba, dhandiya and teen maar. After the performances, they had a fashion walk where students and community members could show off their cultural outfits.  

“It ended up to the highlight of the day with almost everybody’s involvement,” Guraja said. 

Afterwards, those who purchased tickets from the ISA headed to Grubbs Hall where they were served an authentic Indian dinner. The dinner was catered by Godavari Restaurant from Overland Park, Kansas. They offered a buffet with a variety of authentic Indian dishes.  

“I’m… part of the Indian Student Association here on campus and my Pitt Pal is also from India so I’ve come every year…” Stephanie Phillips, sophomore in biochemistry, said. “… It always meets my expectations, we always have a lot of fun. I love the music, I love everyone, what they wear, I have all my friends here so it’s a lot of fun.” 

After dinner, the participants concluded the evening with a fireworks display.  

“Diwali is very important because everyone believes in happiness, everyone believes in freedom and the festival of light is a good way of saying freedom… So seeing the colors, it means you’re welcome and personally, I love feeling the welcome in this group,” Phillips said.

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