Diversity in Lights: South Asian students illuminate FIU with Diwali joy

Welcome tapestry at the Diwali festival adorned with string lights | Jonathan Davis, PantherNOW

Jonathan Davis | Contributing Writer

On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Graham Center glowed as FIU celebrated Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

Co-hosted by the Indian Students Association, the Bangladeshi Student Organization, the Nepalese Student Organization, and the Hindu Student Council, the fusion of cultures created a vibrant atmosphere for everyone in attendance.

Diwali, also referred to as Deepavali, is a five-day South Asian festival marked by the illumination of lamps and candles, which symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. 

During Diwali, it is tradition for families to exchange gifts, adorn their homes with vibrant rangoli

Historically, the Festival of Lights marked the return of Lord Rama after defeating the demon king Ravana, prominent figures in Hinduism

The festival also embodies broader spiritual values like reflecting on self-improvement and expressing gratitude. To this end, Diwali is also celebrated by people not of the Hindu faith, such as Sikhs and Jains, which also originated in South Asia. 

Ishann Kalbhor, a worker of the Deepavali festival, commented on inclusion in the celebration.

“Anybody from any religion can come and celebrate Deepavali, because it is not about anything specific to Hindus, we welcome everyone from all faiths to pursue light and kindness in our daily lives,” said Kalbhor.

Tirthapada Das, a representative of the Sacred Vedic Arts, an arts and spiritual center, informed guests of a local Hindu Temple in Miami. 

“Diwali to me is reflected to me through maya [illusion] and krishna [the ultimate reality]. It reminds my soul to be illuminated not by material goods, but by fulfilling my eternal position, which is to serve,” Das said. 

Yashas Hariprasad, a student leader of the Indian Student Association, elaborated on how the celebration came together. 

“The planning process includes a meticulous approach to ensure a vibrant and inclusive celebration that resonates with the diverse student body, ” Hariprasad said. 

Traditional food from several different nations across the Indian Subcontinent, and most attendees wore traditional clothing like kurtas and sarees

“This collaboration entails joint decision-making on the event program, encompassing dance performances, music, diya [lamp] lighting ceremony, and traditional sports like volleyball and cricket for the members of the clubs. The emphasis is not only on cultural representation but also on creating an engaging experience for all attendees.”

Hariprasad also mentioned that representing such a monumental event for the culture at FIU brings a deep sense of fulfillment to him. 

“It’s an opportunity to showcase the cultural diversity and richness of the participating communities. Beyond cultural pride, the event contributes to community building, fostering stronger bonds within the Indian, Nepali, and Bangladeshi student communities,” Hariprasad said.

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