October and November are often associated with the festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving. But to many South Asians, these months are special because of a third holiday: Diwali.
On November 4, millions around the globe celebrated the five-day festival of lights that originates from the Indian subcontinent. The religious holiday centers around the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. With its annual date determined by the Hindu calendar, Diwali typically falls in late October or early November; festivities include gathering with family and exchanging gifts.
The Lancer interviewed students around campus about their Diwali celebrations.
Rohan Shah (’23) celebrated by donning traditional Indian clothes, reuniting with his extended family, and attending prayer at home. His family also enjoyed a large meal, concluding with authentic Indian sweets.
Pujita Tangirala (’22) invited both Indian and non-Indian friends to her house, where they enjoyed food and set off celebratory fireworks. “I enjoyed the sense of community, she said. “Sharing my culture with other people was really cool.”
Shravya Raghava (’24) and her family set aside work obligations and took turns each day of the festival lighting a candle her grandmother had received from India. Additionally, her family gathered at her cousin’s house for one night, and everyone enjoyed delicious homemade chaat, a popular Indian street food, while playing board games and watching movies.
Amulya Aditham (’22) played an Indian board game similar to chess and battleship called carrom and lit fireworks — “legal ones, of course.” She also enjoyed gathering with her extended family.
Koena Jaware (’23) hung diyas (clay oil lamps) around the house with her family members, who each took photos in the kitchen. They also hosted multiple parties, clothed themselves in traditional Indian garb, and received packages of nuts and sweets from their neighbors.
Namrata Deepak (’22) shared that her family lit firecrackers outside and attended a festival dinner. She also joined her extended family for a scrumptious lunch, which included flavorful dishes from South Indian cuisine such as payasam (a sweet milk pudding), chitranna (a savory lemon rice dish), vangibath (a rice dish with eggplant), bisibelebath (a spicy rice dish cooked with assorted vegetables and lentils), jalebi (a deep-fried spiral shaped dessert dipped in syrup), and gulab jamun (a milk-solid based sweet in syrup).
Ajay Krishnan (’23) prepared an assortment of different foods, such as jalebi and loaded fries. “I appreciated spending quality time with family and unwinding from our busy lives,” he said.
Ritika Arora (’24) and her family wore traditional outfits, gathered with friends for potlucks and card games, and attended an energizing dandiya event to celebrate Indian dance, which she described as “always a blast.”
Maanasi Sridhar (’23) lit diyas, and her father made carrot halwa. She also enjoyed sweets and lit firecrackers, including one called the “flowerpot,” at her friend’s house.
Even after the Diwali festivities concluded, students continued celebrating other Indian traditions in November. Saint Francis’ South Asian Student Association (SASA) hosted its first-ever Sitaara event on November 18 in the Sobrato Commons, complete with a night of dancing, music, and festivities. The event’s name is Hindi for “star,” which represents light, power, and dignity in many South Asian cultures.
Students participated in traditional dances, such as bhangra and dandiya, and were encouraged to bring dandiya sticks and teach new dances to the group. SASA also served South Asian snacks and transformed the Commons into a dance hall with colorful decorations. Students had a blast at the event celebrating the triumph of light over darkness.