More than 400 students and friends of the GW Indian community attended a sold-out celebration of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, hosted by the Indian Students’ Association Friday night. The 15th annual celebration featured Indian and non-Indian students performing 13 different acts in the filled Marvin Center Grand Ballroom in honor of the Indian new year.
Before the performance, students were invited to one of two dinners, featuring traditional Indian cuisine. The menu included white rice, chole (a chick pea sauce), saag paneer (spinach with cheese), chicken muckney, naan and for dessert, gulabjamon, made of fried dough.
“While you’re away at college, the Diwali festival is a great way to connect and experience Indian culture,” said senior Amrith Mago, who attended the festival for the fourth time. “It’s a great time to get dressed in traditional Indian clothing and share the holiday with others.”
First time attendee junior Tyler Neyhart said the festival brought back memories of a one-year stay in Nashik, India three years ago.
“When Diwali came, I didn’t really know what it was, but I was given gifts by my host family and was explained the holiday as we said the Lakshmi prayer,” she said. “We put lanterns outside the house and lit fireworks all night. It quickly became one of my favorite holidays.”
Paula Morehouse, a junior, experienced her first Diwali Friday.
“I had a great time. It’s always interesting to learn about cultures different than yours,” she said. “The performances were amazing – everyone danced unbelievably.”
The performance featured 13 dance routines that combined traditional and nontraditional Indian music and some American music. Students dressed in traditional Indian clothing and engaged the crowd with clapping and singing.
A little more than $2,000 was raised during the Diwali event, which will go toward the ISA’s largest event of the year, the winter Holi show.
Diwali is one of the main Indian holidays honoring the Hindu new year. The holiday symbolizes the ancient Hindu mandate that taught followers to conquer ignorance by banishing the darkness that overpowered the light of knowledge. All Indian religions celebrate the holiday, although each does so for different reasons.
“This has been our most successful show ever,” said junior Arun Jana Kiraman, ISA president. “We are excited to be performing to a sold-out show in the Marvin Center this year . it’s thrilling to be sharing our holiday with the GW community.”