Iowa State students gather to celebrate the Festival of Lights at Diwali 2021


The final performance of Diwali, the Bhangra Dance Club took to the stage to give an electric performance.

Maris Cameron

Iowa State’s Indian Students’ Association celebrated a momentous occasion Sunday evening. 

With over 600 tickets sold, the association hosted their largest event of the year at Memorial Union’s Great Hall: Diwali 2021.

Diwali is a prominent religious holiday celebrated all over India by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists. Lasting five days in length, Diwali is a significant festival of lights that recognizes the importance of family and community togetherness.

The event is intended to give international students at Iowa State the opportunity to feel at home during their homeland’s national holiday. However, any student at Iowa State can still participate in the variety of clubs and activities the association offers. 

The night’s festivities began with opening remarks from Iowa State students Anusha Sharma, a junior majoring in data science and Madhusudan Vijayakumar, a graduate student studying aerospace engineering. A symbolic candle was lit at the front end of the hall as multiple onlookers viewed the grand display of lively and colorful decorations encompassing the room. 

Performances included a variety of traditional Bollywood and Western folk dances along with a music performance by the Punk Bandits. Campus dance groups including the Bollywood Dance Club and The Southern Rhythm made their appearance on stage as well. 

“The best part about Diwali is that everyone gets to showcase their special talents, and it brings people closer together,” said Vaidehee Bahirat, president of the Indian Students’ Association and a junior majoring in industrial engineering. “It meant so much to be back after not having this experience during the pandemic.”

The diverse atmosphere created in the Great Hall catered to Diwali’s holiday goal: celebrating the joys of humanity. Iowa State’s Diwali 2021 event reflected a social celebration of prosperity and harmony between people and has been a rich Indian cultural experience since 1895.

It is a famous Diwali tradition in India to celebrate with fireworks, family and friends, lights and delicious sweets to feast upon. Following the entertainment festivities in the Great Hall, an authentic Indian dinner was served in Howe Hall to all guests in attendance.

“I’ve attended Diwali at Iowa State since my freshman year,” Sharma said. “It’s one of India’s biggest events, and I love to celebrate by dancing and eating with my family and friends.”

Students wanting to purchase tickets for future Diwali events or wish to know more about Indian culture can visit the Indian Student’s Association’s Office Space located in Memorial Union’s Student Activity Center on the first floor.