The Indian Students Association celebrated Diwali, a five-day Hindu celebration that focuses on the victory of good over evil, Saturday.
Diwali, a festival of lights, serves to commemorate a victory achieved by the god Rama’s defeat over Ravana, who took his wife from him. When Rama brought his wife back to the kingdom, it is said that the people of the kingdom lit up the entire city with.
“While Diwali is popularly known as the ‘festival of lights,’ the most significant spiritual meaning behind it is ‘the awareness of the inner light,’” said Harish Naga, a graduate computer science major from Hyderabad, India, and president of the Indian Students Association.
“The celebration of Diwali as the victory of good over evil refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality.”
Naga suggested that this type of experience results in compassion and awareness of one’s own higher knowledge.
According to Naga, for Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and families celebrate it by performing traditional activities together in homes.
During Diwali, clay lamps are lit and filled with oil. According to Naga, this signifies the triumph of good over evil.
“Being the president of the Indian Student Association, I have led the organization, so organizing the event successfully was a big challenge for me,” Naga said. “It was difficult to gather all the Indian people in Troy to one place. Me and my organization’s members worked hard and made it a successful event.”
Grishma Rimal, a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Kathmandu, Nepal, said that “Deewali is the biggest holiday in India, and it’s the second biggest festival in Nepal. This was my first time attending this event since this hadn’t been done in Troy in a while. I really enjoyed the experience.”
Rimal said that since her family is currently celebrating the event back home, attending this event gave her the chance to not feel left out.
“The name festival of lights comes from the same tradition of lighting up your house and city in the brightest way possible in commemoration of the day,” Rimal said. “Those who are a part of this culture got a feel of home away from home. For those who got an insight to the culture for the first time, it was an interesting learning experience.”
Rimal and her group of friends from various countries joined other students and faculty in performing at the event. “The scrumptious traditional food was an added bonus,” Rimal said.
During the event, all members and advisors of the association dressed up in traditional attire, known as shervani, which consists of detailed embroidery and patterns.
Alina Sunderji, a freshman business major from Hyderabad, India, and treasurer of the Indian Students Association, said that the association has helped her to feel more comfortable.
“The organization has helped me a lot as it has helped feel like home when I met the Indians here,” Sunderji said. “All the people of the organization helped me in every way possible to adjust here.”
Naga said that students of various cultures and backgrounds attended the event on Saturday, which he described as being the best part, having so many people interested in learning about the Indian culture.
“We welcome all students from all cultures and backgrounds into the Indian Students Association,” Naga said.
The Indian Students Association meets every other Friday, at 5 p.m. in Trojan Center, with their next meeting being Nov. 15 in the food court next to the game room.
“Right now we don’t have people from other cultures, but we encourage people of all cultures to join us,” Naga said.