Diwali delivers diversity

Students perform during Diwali Dhamaka 2015 Sunday November 15 in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union at Iowa State.

Kyndal Reimer

The Indian Students’ Association’s annual Diwali Night celebration took place Sunday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

The association brought a piece of India to Iowa State to help its multicultural students cope with missing a childhood tradition.

“Diwali is the biggest event in India,” said Sohail Suryavanshi, senior in electrical engineering and president of the Indian Students’ Association. “You get to indulge in Indian sweets, wear new clothing, exchange gifts, hug it out, burn crackers and set off lanterns.”

The event featured the Punk Pundits, a band that blends various Indian tunes. Along with the music, several traditional and contemporary dance groups including the Bollywood Dance Club, ISU Bhangra and the Dhinchak Mastikhors performed for the crowd.

The association also put on a skit titled “Apniwali Diwali,” which told the story of a group of friends celebrating the holiday together. The evening additionally featured a surprise performance by Iowa Agni, an a capella group from the University of Iowa. Following these events, the association put on a dinner including traditional Indian delicacies.

Diwali has been celebrated as the Festival of Lights for hundreds of years in India. It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil or light over darkness. This year’s Diwali fell on Nov. 11 in India.

The festival is iconically known as the biggest and brightest celebration of the year.

“Fire crackers are set off all over the city,” said Nancy Manchanda, graduate student in genetics development and cell biology and the associations’s public relations chairwoman. “If you look up India on Google Earth on Diwali, you’ll be able to see the glow. That’s how bright it gets.”

Attendees agreed that the night of cheerful dancing, singing and lights provided a hint of home in the middle of the United States.

The money collected at the event went to AARAMBH, a non-profit charity for marginalized families living in urban slum communities and rural areas in India.