Diwali meal

Students share an Indian feast during Colgate’s celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. (Photo by Hannah O’Malley ’17)

A burst of fireworks illuminated the campus sky Sunday, November 3, to kick off Diwali, the five-day Hindu festival of lights.   

Students, faculty, and community members continued the celebration in the warmly adorned Hall of Presidents, bedecked with strings of holiday lights. Centerpieces of candles, confetti, and marbles added sparkle and color to the white-linen tables.

Diwali centerpiece“The lights symbolize the removal of darkness, evil, and fear, and the bringing of light, happiness, and positive energy,” explained Shambhavi Sawhney ’17.

She and Nairuti Shah ’17 presented the story behind Diwali and the holiday’s present-day manifestation, illuminating for the community the significance of the abundant lights.

“When you walk down the streets [of India], the entire city is filled with lights and there is a joyous aura,” explained Anan Hossain ’17.

Prosperity and wealth, mutual respect, a sense of community, and, for some communities, the beginning of a new year are additional tenets of Diwali commonly symbolized through colorful rangoli decorations and the exchange of sweets and gifts.

Food from Minar restaurant in New Hartford was served during Colgate’s festivities, which were organized by the Hindu Students Association (HSA). Students dined on samosas, naan, chana masala, curried vegetables, and more.

Bringing the celebration to Colgate not only educates the community about Diwali, but it also gives Hindu students a piece of their homeland. “I really miss home. I woke up at eight in the morning to Skype with my parents and grandparents so I could participate back home as much as possible,” said HSA treasurer Shivika (Shivi) Seksaria ’16, who is from Calcutta. “But it’s nice that we can all come together for this night and celebrate Diwali together. I am going to send a million pictures to my mom from these couple of hours.”