By Charis Tiamson | Staff Writer
On Nov. 11, the Asian Alliance Club, in partnership with The Associated Students of Whitworth University (ASWU), hosted Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights.”
Diwali is a religious festival celebrated by nearly a billion or more people each year, as it is considered to be the biggest festival in Hinduism. It’s celebrated in other religions as well, such as Jainism and Sikhism.
The main celebration of this five-day festivity takes place on Oct. 24.
When asked about the initiative and the importance behind sharing this monumental celebration with Whitworth, an international student from Indore, India, and Vice-President of the Asian Alliance Club, Aditi Beesani said, “The hope was for people to experience it as realistically as possible, as if that’s how they would’ve experienced Diwali back in India. I’m glad that our collaboration with ASWU was able to bring that hope to life and create an inviting cultural ambiance for Diwali.”
Given the scope of Diwali celebrations, Beesani shared that she and her Asian Alliance Club colleagues were selective about the activities to include. “I decided to pick the most common and fun to me: rangoli art making, henna tattooing, dancing in celebration [and] having good food together to be the highlights of our event,” she said.
Asian Alliance Club also hosted Diwali last year. After an enjoyable time last year, sophomore Rosalie Boole said she looked forward to the festivities again. “Last year, I went with some of my friends and it was very fun. We danced a lot, ate food and just had so much fun.”
Coming from a different culture and religion, Boole highlighted the inclusivity of the event. “I really liked that they were very inclusive with everyone. It didn’t matter where you were from, what skin color or language you spoke… they included everyone,” she said.
Boole and many others danced in a large, circling, crowd led by students from many cultures and religions that recognized Diwali. Among the students leading the dance was Bhavesh Bhagtani, an international student from Mandsaur, India.
Bhagtani provided deeper context on the celebration of Diwali, saying, “For Hinduism, we celebrate Diwali as a victory of good over evil, light over darkness,” he said. “When Lord Rama was able to rescue his wife from Ravana, on his way home to the palace, the people shined his way through lamps, making rows of light celebrating his return. That celebration is called Diwali and we repeat it every year.”
Students from all backgrounds gathered in the Hixson Union Building Multipurpose Room (HUB MPR) to celebrate Diwali. Many learned more about Diwali and the cultures that recognize it through the wide array of activities offered, including traditional Indian cuisine catered by Mango Tree, music, dancing, hand henna and the rows of lights illuminating the room, which served as a reminder of the history and essence of the event.