Indian Student Association celebrates the triumph of light over darkness at Diwali Night

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Photo by Sarah Kuhns

Bollywood Fusion performed at Diwali Night.

While the Diwali holiday took place last week from Nov. 2 to Nov. 6, the party continued Nov. 12 as the Indian Student Association hosted Diwali Night for the Marquette community.

The event took place in the Alumni Memorial Union Ballroom and was a night of food, laughter and dancing. Parvathy Nair, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and vice president of ISA, said that her organization organized the event with more than just Indian students in mind.

“We just want to create a fun environment for everyone to celebrate Diwali,” Nair said. “We want it to be an open and warm celebration, it doesn’t matter if you celebrate it or not, this event is open to everyone.”

The event proved to be warm and open because when 8:30 p.m. rolled around, people started pouring into the ballroom from the chill of the cold November night for a celebration of light and community.

Diwali, or the Festival of Lights as it is also known, is a five-day celebration from Indian culture that extends through the Indian New Year. Over each of the five days, families gather to honor each other and the gods and goddesses of their religions. The holiday is celebrated by multiple religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and some forms of Buddhism – each one marking a different historical event or story as the reason for the festivities.

“We want everyone to be able to take part in our culture,” Telsy Stephen, a junior in the College of Health Sciences and co-president of ISA, said. “It’s not just for us, it’s for everyone to enjoy.”

For Nair, the event was an exciting welcome back after having to host events virtually last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is our first big event, so we’re all pumped up. Even if it is with masks and regulations, the fact that we are able to celebrate it in person and jam to good music, even just get to hang out with each other, I think we’re all really excited about that,” Nair said.

Vraj Patel, a junior in the College of Health Sciences and Stephen’s fellow co-president of ISA, loved the huge turn out at the event, as it reminded him of his first Diwali Night and the infectious atmosphere he experienced.

“As soon as I walked in the room, the energy was completely different. Everyone was accepting, willing to learn and excited about what was about to happen,” Patel said. “My goal as co-president is to create the same exact feel that we had freshman year, this year.”

After a brief introduction of the night’s events and a performance by Bollywood Fusion, a group that both Patel and Nair are members of, the roar of conversation and laughter filled the room as authentic Indian foods like samosas proved Diwali Night to be a success.

“I think it’s really important to celebrate Indian culture on campus because I think there is always something new that you can learn from a different culture whether it’s music or art or a new perspective, there is always something new that you to learn,” Nair said.

Nair and Patel shared the sentiment of community and culture that makes Diwali special. Patel went even further and noted his favorite thing about Diwali Night is the wide range of students and faculty it attracts.

“I feel like sometimes on campus we can fall into our cliques and our groups but when everyone is here together and we’re all having a good time I feel like it encourages and facilitates open conversation,” Patel said.

Nair said she loves Diwali because she gets to spend time with the people she loves.

“You don’t see everyone every day and this is one of the few chances you get to, so you get to chill, party, dance, have fun and I think that is my favorite part,” Nair said.

This story was written by Kim Cook. She can be reached at kimberly.cook@marquette.edu.

Check out the audio package for this story by A&E Audio Producer Julianna Okosun.

Check out the video package for this story by TV Producers Ryan Hagan, Patrick Curran, and Laura Bigay Ojeda.