By Contributing Writer Abigail Field
The annual Diwali Celebration is fast upon us, with the event being held on November 16 at 5 pm in the Main Auditorium on campus. Tickets for UMD students cost$5 and general admission cost$10. The celebration of Diwali on our campus started as a relatively small scale event in the early 1990s, says Dr. Sukalyan Sengupta, Director of the Center for Indic Studies. Since then, the event has grown into the largest cultural event on campus.
For those readers who don’t know what Diwali is, it is a religious ceremony celebrated by Hindus, Buddhist, Sikhs, and Jains. It is celebrated in a variety of ways, according to Dr. Sengupta, which reflects India’s diversity, plurality, and syncretic background as a country. The holiday itself is celebrated on the night of a new moon. According to Dr. Sengupta, “Diwali” has a number of meanings, one of which refers to a row of lamps placed outdoors, which signify the removal of the darkness of ignorance by the light of knowledge.
The holiday also coincides with an important battle won by Lord Rama, noted Dr. Sengupta. Notably, Lord Rama was an avatar, or “Godhead descended to Earth in a human form”, of Vishnu, “who is one of three representations of the divinity whose role it is to sustain the universe.”According to Dr. Sengupta, back when our campus’s celebration of Diwali was still relatively small scale, it was mostly put on by Indian-American faculty members, their families, and some other community members to celebrate the event and be together. At that time, the number of Indian students was relatively low as well, so the event mostly consisted of performances by children of the aforementioned faculty members. Families would bring home-cooked dishes and food items which the attendees could enjoy after the event was over.
Now, however, the celebration of Diwali on campus has grown quite considerably. Not only has the event become much more popular, but the number of Indian students on campus has are increased quite a bit. Because of this, the program moved to the main auditorium. According to Dr. Sengupta, the planning and performing really became the responsibility of students in the Indian Student’s Association.
Because of the massive increase in attendees, the ISA ended up needing to get foodcatered by local Indian restaurants. Now, the event is one of the most awaited and attended annual events on campus.
As far as this humble Torch writer, who has attended this event two times, I can attest to any reader who has yet to attend that this isone of the most enthralling and delightful events to attend. The music and dancing and storytelling, let alone the food,makes this event a must-attend. “Come to the event and you’ll love every moment of it,” guaranteed Dr. Sengupta