Diwali Festival enlightens participants

By Queen Ramirez


More than 300 people participated Nov. 10 in the annual Diwali Festival of Lights at McCombs Center Rosenberg Skyroom.

The event was co-hosted by Campus Engagement, International Affairs, the Department of History and its Asian Studies Program. The Diwali Festival – sometimes spelled Deepawali –was the fourth annual festival the school has hosted.

The Skyroom was dark and decorated with multiple colors. White Christmas lights were strung across the back of the room, and colored lights were spread apart on the walls. Tables were decorated with small candles as centerpieces over a dark pink cloth.

Some attendees wore casual clothes while others wore traditional Indian saris.

Those of Hindu faith commonly celebrate the five-day event in which each day represents a different section of the Diwali story. Other faiths, such as the Sikh faith, celebrate Diwali as well, but for different reasons according to their beliefs.

During the festival many lamps — traditionally clay lamps — are lit to symbolize the light ridding any negative forces. Lighting the lamps is a way of asking for health, peace and knowledge.

Before the celebration began, guests had the opportunity to have temporary henna tattoos painted on their hands, and afterwards the guests were told the story of Diwali.

After hearing the story of Diwali the guests heard and witnessed a puja – prayer – and then they were treated to a Diya (lamp) dance. The guests also had the opportunity to eat while enjoying cultural performances including belly dancing and a Bollywood dance. The night ended with freestyle Bollywood dance in which the guests were invited to dance and have fun.

The festival was “an eye-opening and wonderful experience that a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to enjoy,” Vanessa Valla said. “It allows people to step outside their comfort zone.”

“It’s a great fellowship and to get to see another culture and enjoy it alongside others,” Scarlett Pacheco said.



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