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

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Diwali celebration introduces students to the festival of lights


By Serena Bailey | Staff Reporter

Nisha Singh has been celebrating Diwali on campus since she was a little girl. Growing up, she would come and enjoy the lights, the food and perform with her mother, a Bollywood dance teacher who owns a studio in Northport. This year, however, Singh got to see a different side of the celebration when she helped plan it as a member of the University’s South Asian Society.

“I think it’s important for people to have different perspectives on campus and stuff like that just to bring awareness to other cultures,” Singh said. “I think it’s fun for other people too. They like the music. They like the food. It’s good because it’s educational but it’s also entertainment for them.” 

Singh, a  junior psychology major and the treasurer of South Asian Society, was just one of hundreds of students, faculty and community members who gathered in the Ferguson Student Center ballroom on Wednesday night to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. 

The celebration was hosted by three UA organizations: the South Asian Society, which seeks to promote Asian culture on campus, the Honors College Assembly and International Student Association. It featured Indian food, a henna station, Bollywood dance performances and more. 

“It’s become so popular over the years like ‘Oh it’s Diwali, it’s that time of year again,’” said Jay Khuti, the co-president of South Asian Society. “It’s a great way to introduce people to a new culture and personally it’s really, really exciting [to see] cultural events on this campus on such a large scale to include so many different sorts types of people.” 

Freshman marketing major Tana Early said she came to the event in honor of boyfriend, who lives in Texas. His school doesn’t have a Diwali celebration and he encouraged her to go as a way to experience a part of his culture.

“From personal experience, I feel like you’re missing out a lot if you don’t share and experience other cultures,” she said. 

She borrowed her outfit for the event, an Indian kurta, from her friend Wamia Samad, a freshman accounting major and member of the International Student Association. 

“I think it’s great that a lot of people from Tuscaloosa like her are willing to dress up more in something that’s not traditional for them, it’s  traditional for us,” Samad said. “It’s great that people are actually willing to share the culture. That’s sort of surprising. I wasn’t expecting that.” 

For Jamison Humburg, a senior environmental engineering major and the vice president of the South Asian Society, the diversity of the attendees at the Diwali celebrations has been his favorite part. 

“Alabama isn’t the most culturally diverse state, but it’s nice to see that certain areas are taking  strides becoming more culturally aware,” he said. “And having events like this where they are able to include just everybody, like anybody that wants to come in is more than welcome to come in.” 

Humburg said he thinks it’s especially important to host events like this on campus to help introduce students to other cultures in an entertaining, accessible way. 

“I just think that like you go to university to learn to get out of your comfort zone and this is a good place to maybe start to learn about another culture that you’re not very aware of,” he said. 

It’s a sentiment with which Khuti agrees. On a campus so steeped in Southern culture, he said, it’s nice to recognize other cultures that students may not be as familiar with. 

“There’s so much more culture that each of us brings to the table and the fact that we can celebrate that and learn about our different aspects it’s just a wonderful thing,” he said. “And it enriches the community. I firmly believe that the different aspects just make it a healthier, richer community.” 

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