Fairfield University 'Lights it Up' With Diwali Celebration

Fairfield University 'Lights it Up' in Diwali Celebration

The Fairfield University community marked Diwali with a celebration of Indian culture, cuisine, and dance, hosted by the Indian Graduate Student Association.

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated worldwide by many religions. The festival marks the victory of good over evil, and light over darkness. In India, most households are lit up with oil lamps, and a traditional prayer is offered. The celebration also signifies a sign of prosperity and wealth for every household.

The Fairfield University community marked the festival with a celebration in the Dolan School Dining Room on Friday, November 9, hosted by the Indian Graduate Student Association (IGSA), and co-sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement, Campus Ministry, School of Engineering, Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Asian Studies, Religious Studies and JUHAN. The event was focused on bringing together the international and Indian communities on campus, to showcase the culture, traditions, and food of India.

Approximately 150 guests including international students, JUHAN, faculty and staff, family and friends enjoyed a spread of traditional Indian food—16 dishes, representing various regions in India. Signature recipes such as Paneer Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, Gulab Jamun, Samosa and Mango Lassi were served.

"Diwali is all about spreading light in darkness and knowledge over ignorance, and we are really glad to be a part of this noble cause," said graduate assistant Moses Pallapati, one of the lead organizers.

The event began with an Indian tradition to spread divine grace, with the lighting of the lamp and greetings by special guests: Rev. Mark Scalese, S.J., director Campus Ministry and associate professor of Visual & Performing Arts; Uma Balaji, PhD, associate professor and Electrical Computer and Bioengineering department chair; the Dolan School’s Mousomi Bhatacharya, PhD, associate professor of Management Human Resources; Ronald M. Davidson, PhD, professor of Religious Studies; and Jane Aquino, international student advisor with the Office of Student Engagement. Indian graduate students followed with Bollywood songs and Indian dancing.

Next was a special performance by Arunthathi's Natti Aalaya, a Bhartnatyam Dance school based in Trumbull, which showcased one of the major Indian classical dance forms. The performance was based on 'Shiva Tandavam,' a divine dance by Hindu god Shiva. JUHAN later hosted activities and Bingo as part of a fundraiser for the southern Indian state of Kerala which was hit by deadly floods and landslides over the summer.

As dinner began, another foot-tapping Bollywood dance was underway by graduate students. The celebration ended with a performance by 'PARAI Band,' a group of 15 from the 'Maanudam Team' who played the Parai percussion instrument, the only musical instrument tuned by fire.

The Diwali festival is traditionally marked by large firework displays, to remember the celebrations which, according to the legend, took place upon the return of Rama, ancient idol of the heroic ages. Traditional prayers (puja) are offered to gods. Those celebrating the festival also light traditional earthen diyas or candles, and decorate their houses with colorful rangoli artworks or patterns created on the floor using colored rice or powder. During Diwali, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving food and goods to those in need.

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Last modified: 11-16-18 12:00 AM

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