This past Wednesday night, USF’s Indian Student Organization(ISO) hosted its festival of lights—Diwali.
“[Diwali] is a religious event to celebrate the new year, and it’s one of our most traditional events,” said Harmon Chouhan, secretary of ISO.
Diwali originated in ancient India and holds different meanings for Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
“All the regions in India come together, that’s why we celebrate it because everyone can feel like they’re a part of it,” Chouhan said.
Some believe Diwali is a celebration of the marriage between the Hindu goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu. In Bengal, it is a festival to worship Mother Kali, the goddess of strength. Others pray to Lord Ganesha, the elephant god of wisdom.
In India, Diwali is perceived as the time of year that people can begin fresh and traditionally involves the lighting of firecrackers and earthen lamps, and the exchange of gifts between families and friends.
The lighting of candles and lanterns symbolizes the hopes of the new year, and the noise of the fireworks serves as a message to the gods of the joy and prosperity of people on earth.
Students celebrated the evening with a feast of Indian food that included vegetarian and chicken samosas, chicken kabobs, pakora (fritters) and kheer (rice pudding). Students could also get henna, an Indian dye sometimes used to create temporary tattoos.
There were two performances at the event and the evening culminated with a DJ. “[Diwali]is a celebration of lights, celebrated in different ways,” said Chouhan.