International Club hosts Diwali night
The twentysomething Brooklyn couple and music duo Matt and Kim brought their lively, pop-electronic music to Portland this past Wednesday, promoting their new album Sidewalks.
- Breaking barriers to help all students feel at home
- Jewish students and historical perspectives
- On Africa Week: Group provides opportunities for cultural learning
The College’s International Club hosted a Diwali festival in Foss Dining Hall complete with music, dance performances and delicious Indian food to commemorate the traditional five-day celebration of lights, Saturday, November 6.
Sai Chavali ’11 and International Club President Anna Simeonova ’11 worked in tandem to pull the whole festival together in less than three weeks time, with Roja Nunna ’11 organizing all of the decorations.
Foss was completely transformed for the event. All of the tables in the main dining area were cleared out to make way for rows of audience chairs. Many colorful banners and strings of lights hung along the walls and the back of the stage, giving Foss a festive atmosphere. Athul Ravunniarath ’11 and Sai Chavali ’11 served as the emcees for the night’s performances, providing information about how Diwali is celebrated within India’s various geographical regions and ethnic groups.
The first performance was set to a song from a popular Bollywood movie and featured several colorfully clad girls dancing with lights in their palms. Many other performances followed incorporating traditional songs and instruments.
Ravunniarath and Chavali, who are both Indian, explained that the holiday is celebrated for five days and that each day is devoted to one major god. “In a superficial way, it’s the celebration of the victory of good over evil,” Ravunniarath said. Fireworks and the spreading of sweets are an integral part of the Diwali celebrations in Southern India.
Sujie Zhu ’14 and Smriti Bajracharya ’11 also spent some time on stage explaining how Nepal celebrates Diwali. Bajracharya explained that because the Nepalese believe crows to be messengers of death, they attempt to please them during Diwali by way of worship. She also stated that the third day of Diwali is devoted to the goddess Lakshmi. As a way of celebrating this day, families decorate their houses with lights. In Nepal, girls and women typically travel to other houses within their region and sing traditional songs in exchange for money and food. Zhu and Bajracharya sang a shortened version of one song in perfect harmony—all the more impressive as Zhu had just learned the song the night before.
Chavali and Ravunniarath emphasized that celebrants of Diwali consider it to be an intimate, unifying experience. Both said that many Indians living in the States celebrate the holiday with other Indians that they meet in their community. Chavali explained Diwali different traditions vary from region to region, and said that when he celebrated the holiday with his aunt in Washington, D.C., “they [were] very much more into the dancing aspect of the celebration as opposed to the fireworks, but we just got used to what they were doing and did it with them.”
To wrap up the celebration, wide array of Indian food in a huge buffet. “The food was the most difficult to plan for because we didn’t know how much to get, and it also took a lot of discussion to come to a compromise with SGA over food pricing,” Chavali said. Once they reached a settlement, the Club got the dinner from a restaurant in Portland called Hi Bombay.
After dinner, Ben Weinberger ’11 performed fire-dance outside Foss that left many audience in a state of disbelief. With the help of a hired sound professional, a full audience, fantastic performances, food and festivities the International Club provided their fellow Mules a great opportunity to get a taste of South Asian culture and celebrate the beautiful festival of lights.