Indian culture came alive last Friday as Troy University celebrated the Diwali festival, an event sponsored by the Indian Student Association. The event included typical Diwali dances, Indian food and music.
Known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali typically falls at the end of October or the beginning of November. Celebrations can last up to five days.
Diwali is the most well-known Hindu celebration and symbolizes the victory of light over spiritual darkness.
Earl Ingram, senior vice chancellor of academic affairs, and Darlene Schmurr-Stewart, dean of international student services, attended the event. Ingram gave a welcome speech on behalf of the chancellor and Troy University.
“On one level, a good university represents what Diwali signifies,” Ingram said. “A good university will shine the light of knowledge and, as you become our graduates, you’ll be able to project (that light) all over the world. This will hasten the triumph of good over evil and bring hope where now there may be despair.”
This year’s turnout, according to ISA, was much greater than past festivals.
Chamkor Rooprai, a senior computer science major from Dubai, United Arab Emirates said: “Last year we had it at the Baptist Campus Ministries building, and, if I remember, we had around one-hundred and forty people. This time it’s even bigger, which I am glad to see. Thank you all for being so wonderful and supportive.”
Suman Kumar, associate professor of computer science and advisor of ISA, explained some of what Diwali represents. He also emphasized the festival’s importance in breaking down cultural barriers.
“Diwali is a festival of great importance to millions of Indians,” Kumar said. “I’m proud to be a part of this celebration of good over evil, light over darkness. It gives us an opportunity to build a greater understanding of differing cultural backgrounds. This occasion being held in Troy symbolizes cultural ties between India and the university, and hopefully progress towards world peace.”
Sama Tejpal Reddy, a computer science graduate student from Hyderabad, India and president of ISA, was pleased with the turnout. He believes that ISA is important for Indian students.
“We have accomplished a lot,” he said. “And the university has been really helpful. It’s almost like a home away from home for us.”