Indian festival lights up Memorial Hall

By Julia Harold

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The Indian Student Association took over Memorial Hall and brought Diwali, the Festival of Lights, to Lexington on Saturday night.

“Diwali Dhoom! 2015” took place on one of the five days of Diwali, a Hindu holiday that rings in the new year by honoring deities and celebrating the defeat of evil. Dhoom is a word meaning uproar in Hindi, one of the primary languages spoken in India.

ISA used the event to promote diversity, and the organization encouraged students from other cultural backgrounds to enjoy the traditional food, dance and music of the festival.

Diwali Dhoom began with a violin rendition of the U.S. National Anthem followed by a group that sang the Indian National Anthem.

Before the festivities began, ISA held a moment of silence for the lives lost from the terror attacks in Paris the night before.

The program included performances from UK students and others from around Lexington, including a traditional folk dance and a portrayal of an epic poem, “The Ramayan.” In the folk dance, a young girl danced in a red outfit with gold jewelry and a long, red veil.

Some of the performances were reenactments from the Gita, the Hindu scripture, to demonstrate that good conquers all.

“We included acts that are traditional, some of them are westernized, and some of them are mixed, but we wanted to show all aspects of Indian culture.” said Abhishek Ravinuthala, the ISA public relations chair and a biology junior.

The event concluded with a buffet catered by Masala, an Indian restaurant in Lexington. They served Indian pastries and Punjabi foods, which are rich foods that represent the idea of a prosperous upcoming year.

The ISA also held a raffle for gift certificates to the Desi Bazaar, a grocery store in Lexington.

Diwali celebrations typically include lights, fireworks and prayers. The preparations include decorating houses, lighting lamps and letting them burn through the night, and buying new and expensive items used to decorate the house.

The lighting of lamps is a way of paying respect to the goddess Lakshmi for fortune and prosperity. During Diwali, Hindus perform Puja, which is their way of paying respects to gods through prayers and other religious rituals.

ISA promotes diversity on campus by holding events like Diwali Dhoom, Garba, Namaste UK, and Holi in partnership with other organizations such as the Student Activities Board and the Student Government Association. One of the main goals of the ISA is to help Indian international students become acclimated to Lexington and UK.

“I come from an Indian background, and I’ve celebrated Diwali ever since I was born,” said psychology junior Nisha Patel, who attended the event. “It’s just so cool to see how the UK community can come together for such an amazing religious event.”