Celebrate the lights, sounds of Diwali

By Cassidy Herrington

In celebration of Diwali, the Hindu “festival of light,” the Indian Student Association will illuminate the Singletary Center like never before.

The event, Diwali Dhoom, is a 10-act show blending traditional Indian influences and dance with modern pop music. The spectacle is a chance for the UK community to experience the vibrant Indian culture, ISA President Ravi Mahajan said.

“We hope that it (the event) increases cultural awareness on campus,” Mahajan said.

The light surrounding Diwali signifies the victory of good over evil. Each day of the festival marks a significant story involving the Hindu gods. The light that prevails represents one’s inner light and higher awareness. During the Diwali festival, this internal flame materializes in fireworks, sparklers and oil lamps.

But the Singletary Center does not permit the use of pyrotechnics. Instead, flickering LED candles will light the auditorium and a few performances will slip in a fog machine.

The lineup includes Bollywood-inspired dance routines, a cover band and an unprecedented performance from a Korean hip-hop group. Guests from the University of Louisville, University of Cincinnati and Wright State University will also perform.

Three bands will take the stage, including Koshish, a Bollywood-influenced group of UK students. Sonam Chourasia is a master’s student in biomedical engineering and the lead vocalist of Koshish.

“It’s all traditional music from India, but we’re making it entirely our own by adding new guitars and drums,” Chourasia said.

The band’s music also incorporates the tabla, a traditional Indian drum that makes a variety of unique sounds when struck with different parts of the hand. Through Koshish’s fusion of traditional sounds with modern instruments, its music touches a wider audience, Chourasia said.

“Different kinds of people can relate to our music,” Chourasia said. “And we love doing it.”

Diwali officially took place last week, and during that time, many of the Indian students from UK tried to recreate the traditions they have at home. Chourasia has been in the U.S. for three years, and spending Diwali away from India is a difficult adjustment, she said.

“We actually did feel homesick,” Chourasia said. “So we decorated our homes with lighting, we worshipped our gods and asked all of our friends to come over for dinner so we could celebrate together.”

And this is what Diwali Dhoom is about: the Indian student community opening its arms to the surrounding Lexington community, as the festival in India is about welcoming guests into one’s home.

“Diwali is about meeting people, so students should come to Diwali Dhoom,” Chourasia said. “We would welcome you.”

The marathon of Bollywood music and glowing performances will be followed by a traditional Indian dinner, catered by Shalimar Indian Restaurant in Louisville. Expect aromatic curries, fluffy slabs of naan bread and mounds of aromatic basmati rice.

After digesting the whirlwind of culture that the evening will showcase, Majahan hopes that guests will walk away with a new “enlightenment” of India.

“It’s a chance for people to come experience Indian culture, and it’s a celebration of our campus’ diversity,” Mahajan said.

If you go:

What: Diwali Dhoom

When: Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Singletary Center

Admission: $17.95 for students, $19.95 for general public