Diwali lights up Quinnipiac

William Gavin, Staff Writer

One way the South Asian Society celebrates Diwali is by dancing to classic Bollywood hits. (William Gavin)

Students walked through flowery streamers into the bright Burt Kahn gymnasium to join Quinnipiac University’s South Asian Society in celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, on Nov. 12.

Once through the streamers, people were met with the smell of sweet desserts and chicken tikka, colorful ornaments hanging on the walls and loud laughter. In the background, Bollywood music played from Indian singer Sonu Nigam’s best hits, from “Suraj Hua Maddham” to “You are my Soniya.”

Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word “deepavali,” which means “row of clay lamps.” The celebrations focus on the Hindu god Rama’s victory over evil and return from 14 years of exile.

“We basically celebrate with our loved ones,” said Megha Patel, vice president of the SAS and a junior accounting major. “It’s the festival of lights. You celebrate with a bunch of food, decorations (and) performances that we’re going to have later.”

The SAS had been planning Diwali since August in order to get the decorations, food, clothing and arts and crafts ready.

“We’ve had decorations ordered three or four weeks in advance; we had to get the food orders in a couple of weeks ago,” said Kripa Patel, president of SAS and a junior health science studies major. “Then we got here two hours prior to the event to set up. So a lot of planning that goes behind this event, it’s our biggest event of the semester.”

In between bites of gulab jamun, a sweet milk-based dessert, and samosas, students crafted small lamps called diyas, which are typically made out of clay and hold candles, as well as other small crafts.

Diwali was a learning experience for some students such as Jadalise Santiago, a sophomore nursing major, who came to support and bond with her roommate.

“This is the first time, I think we’ve had real Indian food and it was actually a really good experience, like the samosas and stuff,” Santiago said. “And I love the painting. (My roommate) taught us about how special (diyas) are, and how they represent holding candles and are a part of her culture.”

After most of the students finished eating and began to unwind, members of the SAS joined together to perform choreographed dances in traditional clothing.

The first dance featured four women dancing alone, but in unison with each other, as they twirled, bowed and threw their hands into the air. The next two dances saw both men and women dancing together, combining traditional hand gestures with energetic and practiced movements.

As the night began to end, students reflected on the event, and gave it gold star recommendations. Corey Windham, a senior graphic and interactive design major, complimented the food as a “10/10” and praised how prepared the SAS was for the event.

Irsa Awan, former Muslim Student Association president and current graduate student in the biomedical sciences program, spoke about how she has more freedom to enjoy these events as a graduate student.

“I was really involved with the MSA, and I know we’re friends with South Asian Society as well,” Awan said. “So my friends are here, like everyone (is) here basically, I get to support them and see how it is now. I don’t need to go to as many events, it’s nice.”