Campus Lights Up with Diyas


David Li '21

Students celebrated Diwali on campus with sparklers.

Sparklers are not only used to celebrate July 4th – but Diwali as well.  

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an annual holiday primarily celebrated by many people in Southeast Asian cultures. “Diwali” is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning “rows of lighted lamps.” Families decorate their homes with lanterns, candles, and diyas, small lighted lamps symbolizing goodness, prosperity, and happiness. This year, every student at the school received an electric diya to put in their dorm rooms for Diwali. 

On Friday, November 13, Dining Services held a Diwali dinner for community members. Samarth Puthanmadhom ’22 and Dr. Anju Taneja, instructor in physics, were two of the main organizers for this event. They prepared many popular Indian dishes, including butter chicken, rice, dal makhani (lentil soup), vegetable pakora (deep-fried vegetables in batter), raita (Indian yogurt), naan (a type of Indian bread) and an assortment of mithai (Indian sweets). Sahil Annamenani ’24 said, “The food was amazing and tasted so similar to what I usually would have. My favorite dish was the naan.”

A puja, or worship service, was held before the dinner. After the meal, participants lighted sparklers outside the Main Building. Annamenani said, “Doing the traditional puja made me feel more at home. Also, people who had never done the puja before did the ritual, so it was nice to see people learning more about my culture.”

Students shared personal experiences about Diwali during Community Life meeting last saturday. (Doug Wang ’23)

During Community Life meeting last Saturday, the morning of Diwali, student and faculty speakers, including Puthanmadhom, Parth Jain ’24, Mehar Bhasin ’23, Samarth Rastogi ’22, Sachin Umashankar ’21, and Ella Mohanram ’23, shared personal experiences.  Puthanmadhom said, “Diwali has always been a big deal for me and that importance of celebrating Diwali really comes from a personal place in my heart, like how I’d grown up celebrating it.” 

Diwali also celebrates the victory of good over evil in the Indian epic The Ramayana, when the hero Ram defeated the demon Ravana. Annamenani said, “I love Diwali, because it is a time of celebration and love. Everyone comes together as a community, lights candles, eats good food, and sets off fireworks. This is one of my favorite celebrations because of how close it makes me feel with the rest of my community.”