Something as simple as lighting a paper lantern could be exactly what Missouri Western students needed to unite them.
On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Missouri Western students had the unique experience of celebrating Diwali, thanks to International Student Services and several international students from India.
Diwali is a spiritual celebration in India. It signifies the victory of light over darkness, or good over evil. Families will wear their nicest or newest outfits, light lanterns inside and outside of their homes, pray together and then feast and exchange gifts.
It is a night that is celebrated in different ways across varying religions, including Buddhists and Sikhs.
The night kicked off with a few students introducing and explaining what Diwali is and it’s importance to them.
Srinivas Pudari helped put on the Diwali event for students.
“We celebrate this festival in India,” Pudari said. “We do firecrackers and we do celebrations with families. It’s an honor to celebrate out here.”
Traditional treats, like mithai, were offered to guests. Students also had the chance to play a game that many families play on the night of Diwali.
Participating international students put together a small performance for guests. Several small dances were choreographed and danced to for students to enjoy.
Katherine Moore, a dual-credit student, was excited to come to the event after meeting several Indian students at the International Fair on Monday.
“At the International Fair, I met a bunch of Indian students at the table and they invited me to come,” Moore said. “The dancing was my favorite thing. I didn’t expect them to be that good at dancing, they were really amazing.”
With several students showing up, Pudari was excited about the turnout.
“[I am] very excited,” Pudari said. “This is an opportunity for us to celebrate our country and festival over here.”
At the end of the event, students were each given a small paper lantern and a tea candle. Students could write small messages on the lanterns. Everyone headed to the South pond, right in front of Griffon Hall, where the candles were lit and placed in the pond.
“My favorite part of the festival is the lighting, to show the light to everybody,” Pudari said.
The celebration as a whole was well accepted by guests.
“I did enjoy it a lot,” Moore said. “I had kind of heard of the festival of lights, but I never really knew what they did to celebrate. So, it’s neat to see the things that their culture does to celebrate.”
The night was a success and it lit up Western in a new way.
“We were so thankful to have the chance to share this celebration,” Pudari said.