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>  News Releases >   2006 >   October

Diwali at Dartmouth

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 10/18/06 • Genevieve Haas • (603) 646-3661

Hindu festival of lights to be held at college

For the first time, Hindu members of the Dartmouth community will have an opportunity to celebrate Diwali (also called Deepavali), a major holiday for Hindus as well as Jains, Sikhs and Indian Buddhists, right on the college Green. Diwali, which literally means "line of lamps" is a celebration of good over evil practiced by virtually all of India at this time of year.

The Dartmouth celebration, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 21, begins at 5 p.m. in Dartmouth's Rollins Chapel where a cleric will lead participants in puja, or prayer, in the form of traditional Sanskrit mantras. At 6 p.m., Professor of Computer Science Prasad Jayanti, the faculty advisor for the Hindu student association Shanti, joined by members of Shanti, will light 1,500 lamps on the Dartmouth Green which will then be allowed to burn themselves out.

According to Jayanti, Diwali is a deeply significant cultural and religious event for Hindus and most Indians. It speaks to the very premise of Hinduism, he explained, "We are all essentially divine," he said, "but to achieve that divinity, called Brahman, the atma, or soul, must battle six enemies, known as the arishatvarga, which are lust, anger, greed, infatuation, pride, and jealousy." This battle is represented in stories of deities that vary by region and sect, but one common story, said Jayanti, is that of the god Krishna and his wife Sathyabhama and their battle against the demon Naraka. According to the narrative, when Krishna faints, Sathyabhama steps in to kill Naraka. The event is celebrated as an allegory for the triumph of the good over evil through the lighting of lamps in darkness.

Shanti, which includes roughly 150 members, is made up of Dartmouth undergraduates, graduate students, staff, faculty and Upper Valley community members. In addition to Diwali, Shanti members convene for weekly services in the Hindu temple erected in Rollins Chapel.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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