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Jyothi Samuel Kumar Arapall performs "A Thousand Years" at the Diwali Festival of Lights on Oct. 21, 2018.

Diwali celebration brings Indian culture and social awareness to OU

Baker Ballroom was decorated in blue, and traditional Indian music played as the dancers flowed onto the stage.

The Indian Student Association, or ISA, hosted its annual Diwali celebration, which brought Indian festivities to Ohio University on Sunday.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, which is celebrated every autumn. It is one of the most-celebrated Hindu festivals, which symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” 

This year, Diwali is held on Nov. 7. However, last year, it was Oct. 19. The date depends on the cycle of the moon, but it is always celebrated in October or November. The holiday is observed on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. 

Prateek Kulkarni, president of ISA, has been planning this event for a full year. 

“You have to book the ballroom a year in advance,” Kulkarni said. “The actual celebration of Diwali is two weeks from now.”

The event was held in Baker Center Ballroom, and more than 350 people attended. The OU ISA has been sponsoring this festival for more than 50 years with varying performances and food options to provide some Indian culture to the campus.

Every year, ISA chooses a social cause which it centers the festival around, and this year the group chose water conservation. The group wanted to address water pollution and solutions for providing clean water.

Kulkarni wanted water conservation to be the audience’s main takeaway from this event. 

“We want to make people aware of the problem worldwide of conservation, preservation and use of clean water,” Kulkarni said. “And of course we want them to enjoy the Indian culture and festivities.” 

Before the official program started, the guests were encouraged to admire the decorations and take pictures in the photo booth. The DJ played traditional Indian music while guests made their way to their seats. 

The program opened with a welcome speech and an address from OU President Duane Nellis. After the address, there were presentations regarding Indian gods, rivers, and the connections between India and the water conservation theme. Then the main speaker, professor emeritus of economics Rajendar Koshal, presented the audience with the initiatives and contributions being made toward water cleansing. 

There were two dance performances and one musical performance. One of the dances was called Vandana, which is a storytelling performance. The dance is based on the goddess Saraswati Vandana, who is the Hindu authority on academics and the arts.

Snehaa Ray, a graduate student studying food and nutrition sciences, was the dancer for Vandana. This was her first time dancing in the OU Diwali festival.

“Diwali is a grand festival, and I feel so privileged to have these people celebrating and bringing the Indian community alive in the United States and at OU,” Ray said. 

The program concluded with the introduction of the 2018-19 ISA committee and a closing address from the ISA faculty advisor. The guests were then served dinner and spent the rest of the event dancing.

The guests enjoyed the performances, cuisine and various festivities that the festival had to offer.

Divya Warrier, a junior studying math, was impressed by the outcome of the event.

“I really enjoyed the theme this year and the promotion of activism through our community and through India,” Warrier said. 


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