The Desi Students’ Association event “Diwali: The Festival of Lights” will be held in the Granite State Room of the Memorial Union Building (MUB) on Sunday, Nov. 17 from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. The night will feature festivities, dancing, entertainment and a catered Indian dinner from the Kittery, Maine based Indian Restaurant, Tulsi.
“Diwali is a tradition DSA has been doing for many years now and every year the show is so rewarding and fun to do,” said business major and co-President of the Desi Students Association Shivani Sudan. “I love seeing the community get together for the holiday we love!”
The Desi Students’ Association’s goal is to represent University of New Hampshire (UNH) students, faculty and staff who identify as Desi as well as those who love and appreciate the culture. A racially diverse group that is open to everyone, they aim to spread and encourage Desi culture by hosting cultural events, food events, movies and other ways. “Desi” is a term that refers to a person of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and/or other Desi countries birth or descent.
“At this year’s Diwali event, we are having the A cappella group, Penn Masala, for the very first time,” Sudan said. “We will have dance performances, singing, a piano melody, and a fashion show segment to show all of the different Desi clothing. In the end, we will have an Indian buffet catered by Tulsi and a DJ so we can all come together and dance on the dance floor!”
Penn Masala is the “world’s first and premier” Hindi A cappella group, bringing the sounds of the Indian subcontinent to a cappella and garnering the attention of fans and critics alike. The group has performed for former President Obama at the White House and were featured on soundtrack for Pitch Perfect 2— subsequently making them partial winners of the albums American Music Award for Best Soundtrack in 2015.
“The Indian subcontinent is comprised of culturally rich countries with diverse traditions, beliefs, food attire, language and social customs,” Sudan said.
Diwali is a one of the most popular festivals originating in India, with over a billion people celebrating it all over the world.
“Diwali” translates directly to “row of lights” in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. Though forms of celebration differ, the festival undoubtedly brings upon light— from vibrant fireworks to honors of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, good fortune, prosperity and beauty. It is said that Lakshmi roams the earth on the night of Diwali and that by displaying diyas, which are oil lamps, atop windowsills one can light Lakshmi’s path, helping her find her way as she brings upon prosperity to different homes.
The festival lasts for five days usually within November or October, and dates are dependent on the position of the moon and often change with every coming year however the third day of the festival falls upon the darkest night of the lunar month. This year, Diwali begins on Sunday which ignites excitement, from celebrating victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance to spending time with families and friends to feast, dance and even decorate their homes.
“We are welcoming everyone to come to…celebrate Diwali with us!!” Sudan said. “We would love and appreciate for the community to join us to eat, dance, and be a part of our festivities!”
Tickets for students are $3 and tickets for faculty, staff and the community are $10 and can be bought through the MUB online.