Indian Students Association to bring Festival of Lights to Iowa State


Kennedy DeRaedt/Iowa State Daily

Then-senior Gayatri Poudel and then-junior Sana Shetty perform a Bollywood dance routine at Diwali Night. Diwali Night was hosted by the Indian Students’ Association on Nov. 11, 2018, in the Memorial Union. People were invited to enjoy the Festival of Lights with music, dance, handicrafts, games and Indian food.

Susannah Crichton

The Indian Students’ Association (ISA) will present Diwali, the Festival of Lights, from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

“For us, because our home is so far away from us, this brings all of us together and allows us to portray what our religion and our tradition and what our culture is to other people so that they get to experience […] what we enjoy back at home,” said Priyanka Kadaganchi, junior in computer engineering and vice president of the ISA.

Diwali is one of the biggest religious observances in the world and is celebrated every autumn between the Hindu months of Asvina and Kartika, according to National Geographic. This major holiday is celebrated not only by Hindus, but also by many different religious groups including Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and others all over India and around the world.

Kadaganchi said the story of Diwali varies across India, but it always involves the main theme of the triumph of good over evil. Diwali is also called the Festival of Lights, which comes from the diyas, or small candles and clay lamps, that Indian families light around their homes during the festival. It is a five-day celebration of family gatherings, fireworks and diyas, worship to the goddess Lakshmi and other Hindu deities and sharing of food and goodwill.

This event is one of the most important holidays for the Indian community, as it brings people together to spend time with each other and create happy memories.

“I think the biggest reason is just bringing people together; that’s all we want to do as a committee,” said Rahul Namboori, senior in management information systems and president of the ISA. “This event is so significant to us for that big reason, just bringing people together for the four hours that they’re there, and have them enjoy the event and just relax and have fun while doing so.”

The festival will include a wide variety of activities.

“There will be Indian traditional dances and some fun kind of dances that a lot of people here also enjoy, like Bollywood,” Kadaganchi said. “There will be very amazing Indian food. It always stays with a person because it’s a huge event. It’s a very important event for all of the Indians there, so a lot of people remember this event; so it’s very important for us also to make it a point to portray a good event for them, to make it a good celebration.”

While celebrating Diwali looks different in the U.S. than it does in India, Namboori said the ISA tries its best to replicate what the experience is like.

“It’s really hard to celebrate these festivals here in America, so [we’re] just doing what we can to bridge the gap, basically, and helping as [many] people as we can doing it,” Namboori said. “This is something you’ve been celebrating ever since you were born, so you’re accustomed to that Diwali culture, where you get with your friends, you have fun, […] but here, it’s harder because there are so many people from different backgrounds, so you have to teach them about Diwali and be like, ‘this is what we do in India.’ We want you to experience that in whatever way we can help.”

Tickets for the festival are available online or at various locations on campus, which are updated daily on the ISA’s Facebook page. Tickets are $5 for Iowa State students and $10 for non-students.