Diwali: A Celebration of Light


Danielle Sinclair

Community members celebrated Diwali with traditional Indian cuisine.

A mouthwatering mountain of Indian food awaited students who attended the Diwali Dinner on Saturday, October 25, in Monahan from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. The holiday event was organized by Samarth Puthanmadhom ’22, Arhan Chhabra ’22, Keith Matanachai ’22, and Dr. Anju Taneja, instructor in physics.
Diwali is an important festival, celebrated by many Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains in October or November. Diwali lasts approximately a week and means “row of lights.” The festival honors a variety of deities, most prominently Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, and celebrates the victory of light over darkness. People clean their homes, dress up, burn candles, and attend feasts with loved ones. Arhan Chhabra ’22 said, “For me, the most important thing about Diwali is [the chance] to spend time with family and friends. It’s all about forgetting grudges, eating great food, and having a blast.”
The dinner was a closed event for students of Indian heritage and members of the Asian Culture Club. Aroma, a caterer based in Great Barrington, MA, provided the dinner. The menu included butter chicken, dal makhani, kadai paneer, vegetable korma, chola masala, basmati rice, garlic naan, and raita. Some students dressed in traditional Indian clothing, such as kurthas, lehengas, and anarkalis. During the dinner, Puthanmadhom led puja (worship), to honor various deities celebrated during Diwali, including Lakshmi. Participants held a pooja thali, a special plate that contains sections of turmeric, raw rice, and a lit candle, and moved it clockwise three times in a circle in front of religious idols to ask for a prosperous year in the future. Students lit sparklers at the end of the event.
This year’s celebration was larger and more elaborate than it has been in past years. Last year, a handful of students gathered in the English wing for a celebration organized by Priyanka Kumar ’19. Puja was performed before printed-out pictures of a deity, candles, and sparklers. Chhabra ’22 said, “[This year], we had a projer puja ceremony with a statue. People ate at big, round tables with matching tablecloths. We lit actual sparklers and fireworks. Overall, I was very pleased with how the event turned out.”
The organizers of the event are excited for continued growth in future years. Matanachai ’22 said, “Next year, maybe we could expand the event and get even more people to come. Perhaps we could hold an educational event alongside the dinner, so that people can learn more about this fascinating festival.”
Sankrati, which celebrates the deity Surya, is the next Hindu festival and will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 15.