Festival sheds light on annual Hindu celebration

By Kelly Wiley

Students of all backgrounds packed into Memorial Hall on Saturday night to enjoy song, dance and theater at the Festival of Lights.

The Festival of Lights is part of Diwali Dhoom, a Hindu celebration of the victory of good over evil.

The Indian Students Association, the UK Student Government Association, the Office of Student Diversity Engagement and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs sponsored the festival.

“It is one of the biggest festivals that we have,” said Pooja Vijaygopal, biomedical engineering student and president of Indian Students Association. “We wanted everyone to come together and work together instead of being isolated in their own domain.”

The festival showcased many students singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. Lamps called diyas, or kandils, were also lit to celebrate hope for mankind.

In the past, the festival was held mainly for those accustomed to the Diwali Dhoom tradition. This year, the organizers decided to spend more time publicizing the event with the hopes of attracting a more diverse crowd, Vijaygopal said.

The festival drew a large crowd of enthusiastic participants who swayed their hands and cheered during the performances.

“I think it is more of a relaxing event rather than an informative event,” said Ramakanth Kavuluru, an electrical engineering graduate student.

“I think it is a great thing for campus,” said Patrick Nally, a marketing junior and marketing associate for the Office of Student Diversity Engagement.

He said he hoped the festival would help students realize that there are many international students on campus and that even non-international students can get involved.

“I hope that (international students) get a chance to share their voice and let others know that they are here,” Nally said.

The festival ended with a dinner of Indian food.

Brent Sizemore, an education graduate student, said the big winner for him was the food. Sizemore said he came to the festival because he happened to run across a flyer promoting the event and it sparked his interest.

“There is no harm in experiencing other cultures even if you have your own beliefs,” Sizemore said.