Indian New Year unites students in celebration

By Kiran Sood

With a celebration including prayer, a festive dinner and dancing, the Hindu Students Council will ring in the start of a New Year.

Diwali, the Indian New Year, is commonly known as the festival of lights. Throughout the country, Indians everywhere celebrate the start of the New Year with prayers and festivities. Campus festivities for the Diwali Puja (prayer) will begin at 6 p.m. with a prayer and song session, followed by a special dinner catered by Bombay Grill and then a garba/raas traditional dance session.

Seema Kamath, sophomore in LAS, and chairperson of the Hindu Students Council, recalls celebrating many Diwalis at home during her childhood. She continues to celebrate and take part in the festivities even though she is away from home, she said.

“My family speaks Konkani which is a minority language in India,” she said. “We get together with a Konkani Association of families to celebrate major holidays. Diwali represents the togetherness I feel when I’m with people who are like family to me.”

Although most of her blood relatives are in India, it’s nice to re-create the family atmosphere at school, Kamath said.

“Diwali is a lot of fun to celebrate because of the lights, and the nature of the holiday itself,” she said. “The stories surrounding Lord Krishna portray him having fun during this time and the lamps in town lit the way for Goddess Lakshmi to find her ways through cities to bless people.”

Swati Acharya, sophomore in Engineering and member of the council, said she is looking forward to the Diwali celebrations as well as taking part in singing prayers at the event.

It will be difficult to be away from her family for Diwali, a day that she is used to spending at home with them, Acharya said. Attending the event will make the celebration enjoyable nonetheless, she said.

“Diwali is a time that is meant to be spent with friends and family being thankful for all that you have,” Acharya said. “At the same time, you must be actively thinking about what is in store for the New Year and what you can do to make it better for others.”

The delicious food and lively music will make Diwali Puja a fun event, Acharya said. The significance behind Diwali is also mythical, said Sujal Shah, sophomore in LAS. “Diwali is when (the god) Ram came back after his solitude,” Shah said. “It reveals our way of surviving.” Hindu’s believe that before Ram came back he killed the devil Rawan, Shah said. “He brought safety and hopes to the people and we now celebrate it by lighting candles and joining together in festivities,” he said.