Students, professors and families of the Hamilton community gathered in the Hall of Presidents (HOP) Saturday, November 5 for the celebration of Diwali. The event is annually hosted by the Hindu Students Association (HSA) in honor of the Hindu festival of lights. The room was beautifully decorated and lively. Tables, embellished with bright candles and samosas, filled quickly as the event received a very large turnout. Colorful rangoli, patterned designs made from sand at the entrance of homes as a warm welcome, lined the entrance of the room.
The celebration began just outside the HOP, with an elaborate display of Fireworks, which represents a symbol of light and celebration. The bright colors and lights received high praise, as those in attendance cheered and took photos.
After the display, HSA Co-Presidents and seniors Nairuti Shah and Shambhavi Sawhney welcomed the community to their celebration. They thanked the office of the Chaplains for their support. The organization was incredibly supportive of members of the entire community, who chose to celebrate regardless of their religious beliefs.
First-year Rupika Chakraverti then gave a comprehensive overview of the holiday and its significance. Hinduism is an amalgam of various cultures, and Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. It honors the return of Prince Rama, his wife Sita and Brother Lankshmana after their exile following Rama’s defeat of Ravana. Therefore, Diwali is celebrated in recognition of light conquering darkness and good conquering evil. Light connects to multiple religions all over the world, making this festival accessible to all in attendance. The presentation highlighted both the inclusivity of the holiday and the role that it plays in the Colgate community.
“My favorite part of Diwali was the emphasis on its importance of light overcoming darkness and how it is something relevant across religions and cultures,” sophomore Alex Goldych said.
Following the presentation, the community was led in a religious ceremony of devotional hymns that bless the family with wealth and prosperity. The ceremony was important because it brought a religious element to a rather non-denominational approach to sharing the holiday with the religiously diverse Colgate community. Likewise, the soothing hymns allowed for a moment of silence that truly bonded all of those in attendance.
Finally, everyone feasted on delicious Royal India Grill dishes and mango and pistachio ice cream. The food in the HOP was vegetarian to recognize that no meat is allowed in the Hindu Temple of Pujab. Chicken dishes were offered across the hall. Music played and Henna was drawn on people’s hands as additional activities at the celebration. Overall, the event was a good deal of fun and a great way to incorporate a diverse community into the Hindu religion and its traditions.
“I was extremely impressed with the Diwali celebration. While the food was amazing, I really enjoyed learning about the meaning behind the festival before seeing the religious ceremony. It was a great opportunity to learn about and be a part of the Hindu religious celebration,” sophomore Molly