Hopkins community celebrates Diwali

By KATY WILNER and JAE CHOI | October 11, 2018

Students celebrated the Hindu “Festival of Lights” at the Rec Center.

The Hopkins Hindu Students Council (HSC) hosted their annual Diwali Dhamaka celebration in the Recreation Center on Saturday, Oct. 8. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, takes place each fall and is one of the most popular celebrations in the Hindu religion. 

The central theme of Diwali is the victory of spiritual light over darkness, represented by the lighting of candles and lamps. Because the celebration took place during Family Weekend, many parents attended the event along with students.

Sophomore Rithvic Jupudi attended the event on Saturday because Diwali has always been a significant holiday for his family.

“At Hopkins, it’s pretty easy to get out of touch with your cultural and religious side when you don’t have the community feeling that comes with being home,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter

Jupudi explained that although he was not able to celebrate this year’s Diwali with his family, he enjoyed celebrating it with other students from similar cultural backgrounds.

HSC decorated the steps leading up to the Recreation Center with traditional Hindu rangoli patterns and bright lights. Once inside, ushers greeted guests and invited to take off their shoes, keeping with Hindu tradition.

HSC provided dinner at this event, which included rice, gulab jamun (a round milk-based dessert), chana masala (a traditional chickpea-based dish) and pakoras (fried vegetables). Due to the large number of attendees, tables filled up quickly and many students sat in groups on the floor.

In an email to The News-Letter, sophomore Mohammed Mumtaz noted that he was surprised by how many people showed up to the event.

“There was a huge variety of ages there and an incredible display of cultural diversity,” he wrote. “Everyone seemed to be really enjoying a special celebration with friends and family.”

The interior of the Recreation Center was decorated with string lights and murti idols dedicated to various Indian deities. 

Arti, an important Hindu religious ritual, took place in the center of the gym. Lighted candles on metal plates rotated in a circular motion and participants passed them around to others participating in the ritual. Songs of praise to the Indian deities Lakshmi and Vishnu played on loudspeakers during the ritual.

Dances and music performances from various student groups began after Arti. The performance groups included: Shakti, the University’s first competitive classical dancing team; Zinda, the coed Bollywood Fusion dance team; JOSH, the all-female Bollywood Fusion dance team; Kranti, the South Asian fusion a cappella group; and Blue Jay Bhangra, the coed Punjabi dance team.

Mumtaz said that one of his favorite parts of the Diwali celebration was the student-run entertainment.

“It was neat to see fellow Hopkins students singing and dancing in a setting different than what we usually see,” he wrote.

Jupudi agreed, adding that he was very impressed with members of HSC for successfully organizing such a large event.

“One of my really good friends who is also the president of the Hindu Student Council put a lot of effort into making this happen and I was proud and happy for him to see it all come together,” he wrote. 

Jupudi feels that Diwali was a positive experience because it helped him reconnect with his Indian roots.

“To feel so back in touch with your culture after being absorbed by Hopkins and work is an amazing feeling, especially when you’re celebrating it with all the close friends you’ve made since being at Hopkins,” he wrote.

Kavya Tangella was a coordinator for the event and is the sophomore class representative of the Hindu Students Council. She was pleased with the large amount of people who attended the event. 

“It went even better than last year, because it was planned more in advance, and the people who were in charge really planned everything out before we got there to set up,” Tangella said.

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