Celebrated on a new moon day that is one of the darkest days of year, today, October 26th, marks the festival of Diwali. Popularly know as the “Hindu Festival of Lights”, Hindus around the world light lamps on this occasion to commemorate the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of good over evil. This year marks the tenth annual Diwali festival here at Dartmouth (on Saturday October 29th), and serves as one of the most visible celebrations of Indian culture on campus.
“Our celebration seeks to unite the traditional aspects of Diwali while including the larger Dartmouth community,” says Aarathi Prasad, Graduate Student Vice President of Shanti, the Hindu Student Organization at Dartmouth that organizes Diwali. A current graduate student in the Department of Computer Science and an executive board member of the Graduate Student Council, Prasad notes that funding from the GSC has been instrumental in making Diwali such a large-scale successful event.
“Thousands of lit candles, sparklers and above all the happiness and excitement on the Green (despite the cold winds!) on the day of Diwali makes me feel at home every year! Diwali is definitely the most memorable time of the year as an Indian graduate student,” Prasad explains.
Saturday’s events begin with a traditional service in Rollins Chapel, followed by the lighting of the lamps. Puja, the lighting of thousands of lamps, is generally one of the recognizable Diwali events here on campus. Starting at nightfall, over 3,500 hundred lamps will be lit throughout the Dartmouth Green. Symbolic of the inner light of spirituality that can dispel the darkness of ignorance, the lighting ceremony generally takes numerous students over an hour to complete.
A cultural show featuring traditional Indian music and dancing is also a key event of Diwali. This year, the show will feature performances by community members as well as by Raaz and Vandana, Dartmouth’s South Asian Dance Troupes, and by Taal, Dartmouth’s South Asian Fusion a cappella group. Following the cultural program, there will be an authentic Indian vegetarian meal that is free and open to all students.
For more information on Diwali, visit Shanti’s homepage.
by Erin O’Flaherty
photo by Ayaz Asif