A wave of warm, exotic aromas describes my first Diwali experience. As I walked into Darden Lounge on Monday, Nov. 7, I was tantalized by the
fragrance of a variety of curries and the colorful array of sarees worn by students, faculty, staff and friends of Rollins.
The Diwali celebration was hosted by the cultural organization Desi, which celebrates the South Asian cultures represented at Rollins. Diwali and Holi are the two main events Desi holds annually, but the group also sponsors Bollywood movie nights. Desi’s goal with these events is to educate the Rollins campus about the beauty and diversity that these cultures represent.
Diwali is also known as the “Festival of Lights,” and people celebrating this event light small oil lamps and place them around their homes. While the little lamps in our Campus Center were artificial, their low-lit light in the decorated setting subtly complemented the spiritual nature of the holiday.
The celebration of the festival is typically accompanied by fireworks and the exchange of sweets. Aditya Mahara ‘12 calls it “our version of Christmas.” Dr. Jayashree Shivamoggi, the director of the Office of Student External and Competitive Scholarship Advisement, began the festivities with prayers, after which the Desi members demonstrated some of the traditional dances associated with the holiday.
Desi President and Vice President Reet Dhaliwal ‘13 and Ruchi Kapadia ‘13, among other Desi members, invited the audience to participate. Transfer student Ruqayyah Ali ‘14 helped incorporate modern dance moves that captured the audience’s attention.
Summer Braun ‘14 loved her first experience of Diwali, stating, “It was an awesome experience that gave students a little look into a culture that
they are probably not exposed to very often. We were able to eat authentic food and experience traditional and modern types of dancing. It was interactive and they encouraged us to participate in the dances, which was fun as well.”
As with other Indian festivals, Diwali signifies many different things to people across the country. However, it always signifies the renewal of life; it is a symbol of the victory of good over evil, brightness over darkness, and truth over falsehood. It is a festival based on religious and spiritual foundations, but it is also a time to enjoy good food and the company of friends.