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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students celebrate Diwali festival of lights

Courtesy of Indian Students Association of Tuscaloosa.

The Indian Students Association of Tuscaloosa and South Asian Culture Club celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, in the Student Center Ballroom from 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday.  

The festival included food catered by Sitar and Bawarchi, music and dance performances, and a fireworks display viewable from the east of the Student Center.  

Recognized as a national holiday in India and celebrated by South Asian communities in many other countries, Diwali celebrates enlightenment and the triumph of good over evil over the course of five days in November. During this period, those who observe it often spend time with family while they enjoy meals together.  

With free events throughout the year that highlight Indian culture, ISAT invites UA students, faculty and staff to celebrate with food, music and dances. The organization focuses on building connections in the Indian community and helping “incoming Indian students by easing the transition process to the States and giving them a sense of home away from home,” according to its website.  

Apurav Gupta, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering and ISAT’s treasurer, said that last year, the festival sold all 500 tickets available, but around 450 people attended the event. This year it reached its 700-ticket cap with an even greater turnout of over 700. 

Praphull Kumar, the ISAT president and a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in astrophysics, said that Student Involvement has been supportive in event organization. 

Kumar also shared the importance of celebrating Indian holidays and providing a community for students and faculty at the University throughout the semester.  

“India is very far away, and people are looking forward to celebrate their own traditions,” Kumar said. “We want to make sure that they get those festivals celebrated well and people have a good time, especially with hectic schedules, so that they feel comfortable here on campus.” 

Sri Pingali, a junior majoring in biology, has been a member of ISAT since his first year at the University and has helped set up the past two Diwali festivals. Pingali said that it can be intimidating to join a large student-led community, but it can also give new students a “family” and possibly help with homesickness.  

“I feel like I have people that I can relate to more deeply,” Kumar said about his ISAT membership. “It gives me a sense of safety.” 

Cyrus Gomes, a junior international student from Bangladesh majoring in computer science, said ISAT’s Diwali reminded him of celebrations back home.  

“When I heard about Diwali at UA, I was really excited,” Gomes said. “It felt like home was in Alabama for me.”  

He said the University’s festival was more celebratory than the one in his home country, where the event is a lot more family-oriented.  

Clay Suddarth, a senior majoring in management information systems, said he came to Diwali because he has friends in ISAT and believes visiting festivals like this one broadens students’ horizons.  

“I appreciate culture and just want to have a more open mindset to what other cultures have to offer,” Suddarth said.   

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