Bright hopes for festival of lights

If you’re looking to ring in the Hindu New Year, you could do worse than henna tattoos, Indian food, and a night of dancing at the Diwali celebration next Friday.

Diwali, known as the festival of lights, is a Hindu celebration of the triumph over evil. The celebration takes place over the course of four days, each day having a distinct cultural significance and diverse set of traditions and rituals that accompany it. The Diwali festival celebrates a new beginning, a New Year for the Hindu people.

The festival of lights will kick off with photographs to explain how Diwali is celebrated in distinct regions of India. Each region of the country brings its own hue to the colorful celebration of the New Year. Unique stories are told and disparate gods are prayed to, but in its essence, Diwali is a celebration in which all Hindu people have in common.

“Each area has its own story,” coordinator of the event Namrata Joshi ‘16 said. For example in Gujarat, a state in the North-West region of India, dance and fireworks play a larger role in the festivities than in other areas where the focus is on community gatherings and prayer.”

Namrata hopes that the celebration will highlight the distinct ways in which separate divisions of India partake in Diwali.

The night will also feature performances by two dance groups, both of which were choreographed by Namrata. One a group of ten dancers, and the other, a group of three. The styles of each dance are representative of a variety of areas from India.

“I choreographed them in a way that shows all different styles of dancing in India,” Namrata said. “So there’s Bharata Natyam from the south, and Garba which is from Gujarat.”

“[The dances are] from different states of India to share the culture and expression of each area,” Namrata said. “One group will be wearing traditional Indian clothing while the other will be wearing more casual, everyday clothing, yet both will perform a variety of diverse dances from disparate regions of the country.”

On the magical nights of Diwali, millions of lights are lit all around the country. Food is shared, new clothes are donned, gifts are exchanged, and doors are opened to welcome good luck in for the upcoming year. Being one of the most popular holidays of the year, the festival spreads far beyond the borders of India. Its lights reach as far as New Zealand, Fiji, and can now be seen on campus.

“It’s happiness all around…it’s all happiness and lights,” Namrata said.

The Diwali celebration will be held November 2 from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM in the Marlo Room.

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