Flashes of bright color and loud music were on display in the Memorial Hall Ballroom on the evening of Oct. 29 as the University of Georgia’s Indian Student Association celebrated Diwali.
Diwali is a holiday that originated in India and is also referred to as a festival of lights. The holiday is celebrated by several religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism, and therefore the meaning for each celebration varies. In Northern India, the holiday celebrates Lord Rama defeating Ravana and returning to his kingdom after exile. Across religions, the festival is exciting and hopeful as it seeks to inspire positive energy for the upcoming calendar year.
“The significance of Diwali is that even in the midst of darkness, the light will eventually prevail,” ISA President Shubhangi Rai said. “We celebrate the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.”
A lively celebration
Diwali Night included no shortage of entertainment and festivities. There were multiple acts who sang and danced, games, an audience Q&A and a full buffet style Indian dinner.
“It just brings joy in the light and brings back childhood memories from home,” Sunita Singh, one of the founding members of the Indian Association of Greater Athens said. “I think it’s just like holiday time and Christmas time. You hear those jingle bells, and [see] the snow, and you have Santa Claus and you just feel happy. It’s the same thing.”
Nagesh Veeravalli, a computer science graduate student, said ISA has helped to build a community for students away from home and helped him meet new people.
Members of Indian Association of Greater Athens (IAGA) attend the event on Oct. 29 in the Memorial Hall Ballroom. (Photo/Sydney Bishop)
“You have an instant connection and you can share anything with [them] and they can relate to you,” Veeravalli said.
ISA Vice President Richa Bajaj said setting up Diwali Night is no easy feat. The event was prepared for weeks, with the organization obtaining decorations and retrieving food from an Indian restaurant in Atlanta.
Traditions to last a lifetime