On Halloween night Knox students got a taste of a different cultural celebration: the annual Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali. Hosted by South Asian cultural club AAINA with the Nepali festival counterpart, Tihar, students were able to enjoy a night of dancing, South Asian food and sparklers.
Though the event at Knox did not compare with festivities that occurred in India, students enjoyed themselves. Freshman Atithya Ghai described celebrating the experience with her friends as the next step toward growing up.
“My friends are my new family now, so I’m really glad I have the chance to introduce them to my culture,” Ghai said.
Freshman Kara Ledesma agreed, expressing happiness that she “could see a different side of Atithya outside of the American way of life that international students conform to.”
The night began with appetizers and some time to mingle. Nepali freshman Larisha Dhakal, dressed in a traditional sari, noted the effort made by the attendees to bring the feel of the festival to Knox.
“I really didn’t expect to feel the same celebrating here at Knox as I would at home, and I think my friends’ enthusiasm was a big part of that,” Dhakal said.
After a dinner featuring traditional dishes such as Aloo Gobhi and Kadhai Paneer and a popular fried dessert called Gulab Jamun, the dancing was ready to begin. Music included everything from Bollywood to traditional Tihar songs. While the beginning had a showcase of popular Bollywood songs and synchronized steps, everyone had joined in by the end.
Sophomore Zair Zahid enjoyed the sight, explaining that he loves “watching American people make the effort to learn the dances.”
The evening ended with the main component of the festival: lights. Taking an array of sparklers to the Gizmo Patio, all attendees united in both a symbolic victory of light over darkness, as well as the joys of each other’s companionship.
Already planning for improvements in the next year, this year’s Festival of Lights proved itself a worthy incorporation of culture far from its geographic origin.
“While it is smaller,” sophomore Kalyani Sonarikar said. “I am thankful to be able to spend time with others who also appreciate the culture.”