BY AVOLIN SEN / STAFF WRITER
The festival of lights, known as Deepavali or Diwali, is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. A festival marked by four days of celebration, Diwali is observed all around India and celebrated in different parts of the world. People in Northern India burn rows of clay lights to commemorate the legend of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. It is marked as the day Lord Krishna vanquished the demon Narakasura in Southern India. The Western India festival commemorates the day that demon King Bali was appointed ruler of the underworld by Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, one of the three principal Hindu gods.
Diwali is beautiful, and one of the most pious occasions. It illuminates the country with its sheer magic and brilliance and dazzles people everywhere with joy and celebration. Diwali is usually celebrated over a number of days, and every day has a unique tradition that fills people with good hope, love and peace.
This year at Augustana, a Diwali celebration was hosted by the Augustana Chaplaincy in collaboration with the South Asian Club (SAC), who together planned an array of activities. Students dressed up in traditional Indian garments with their peers to commemorate the event. The occasion started off with captivating traditional Indian dances. The dance was inclusive to non-Indian students, demonstrating the union of different cultures. This was followed by a movie called the Ramayana, an explanation of the lore behind the Festival of Lights. This aided in describing the story of the diyas (lights) and their crucial significance, informing those in attendance of the different customs. The SAC also organized foodstuffs native to India to give the students a taste of the land. The menu for the night included Pav Bhaji, a fast food dish made of rich vegetable curry, and a soft bread bun. This was accompanied by the customary activity of modelling and lighting diyas.
Overall, the entire event was well-arranged and quite lively and, more importantly, taught students about the relevance of the festivities and how they are honoured globally. As a native Indian, I would love to see more events like these at Augustana, as they respect my culture and bring back a piece of home, making worthwhile memories in my university years.