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Students, faculty gather to celebrate Diwali festival


Indian Students Association executive board members pose for a photo during the Diwali celebration in Powers Ballroom on Oct. 28.

Neha Srivastava was sad to be away from home during Diwali this year.

Though the India graduate student couldn’t spend the festival with her family, she was able to celebrate by doing something she’s passionate about: dancing.

The Indian Students Association hosted a Diwali celebration on Oct. 28 in Powers Ballroom. The event included musical performances, dances, food, a fashion show and presentations and videos about India.

Srivastava performed at the event, coordinating a dance with China graduate student Luyi Huang.

“We (recently) had an exam so we were under much pressure,” Srivastava said. “When I passed the exam, I thought, ‘OK, let’s dance.’ In the morning, (Huang) told me, ‘I also want to perform.’”

Diwali, also commonly referred to as the festival of lights, is one of the most significant festivals in India. It celebrates the victory of light over darkness.

“It’s basically like, at this time, good things will happen,” Srivastava said. “Mostly good blessings and wealth will come. This is a festival where we welcome Goddess Laxmi, which is the goddess of wealth. We put lights in front of our house so she’ll come to our house and bless us.”

Dancer Sangeeta Kar performs during the Diwali celebration in Powers Ballroom on Oct. 28.

India graduate student Hamsa Gangishetty said the festival is commonly celebrated in India by going to the temple, buying new clothes, lighting diyas (lamps), setting off fireworks and making sweet foods.

Software architect Jared Peless, who teaches courses in the Master of Science in Information Systems program, attended India Night, another event hosted by ISA, with his family last spring because some students in his classes invited him. After enjoying that event, he and his family attended the Diwali event this year to support students and learn more about them.

“I like to try to support the students,” Peless said. “They’ve come a long way to study and we should understand where they come from. I would invite others to come and participate and get to know the international students here.”