Kent Indian Association celebrates Diwali, giving students a sense of ‘home’

FILE: Dancers perform at the Diwali celebration in the Kent Student Center Ballroom on Nov. 5, 2016. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights that’s celebrated every year in autumn.

India Said

Kent Indian Association shared a part of their culture through hosting a Diwali celebration in the Student Center Ballroom on Saturday night.

Diwali, which last five days, emphasizes the use of light, as it symbolizes goodness in Hinduism. Participants will burn ‘deeps’ — which are oil lamps — throughout the day in their own home to expel any darkness or evil, according to the Society for the Confluence of Festival of India.

At Kent State, the celebration included students performing traditional Indian dances, presented musical performances and played games for prize giveaways throughout the night.

Indian celebrities such as, singer Simha and notable TV anchor Jhansi Laxmi took the time to wish Kent State students a happy Diwali through a video shown during the event.

Along with celebrating Diwali, KIA celebrated the official launch of their new website.

Holly Keller, a sophomore psychology major, said she felt it was important to be immersed in a different culture than her own.

“Everyday, Indians live in our culture and absorb everything we do,” Keller said. “So, the one chance we have to experience their culture, we should take advantage of it.”

Graduate digital science student Vilkas Begari shared that he appreciates when people of other backgrounds take the time to learn about Indian culture.

“I love attending Diwali,” Bergari said. “I love to meet the diverse groups of people and teaching them Indian culture.”

Alka Pandit, a graduate public health student, said students from India don’t visit home often due to travel costs. Pandit added that most people couldn’t imagine being away from home for years at a time.

Pandit said it feels amazing to be able to celebrate traditional Indian festivals as if she were back at home.

“It feels so great to be a part of Kent State’s loving community,” Pandit said.

Sashimita Yelleni, a graduate digital science student appreciated the effort that Kent State makes in order for its Indian students to feel at home.

“Far away from home and missing festivals sucks,” Yelleni said. “Kent has made it possible to feel at home even though I’m thousands of miles away from home.”

Shay Little, the vice president of student affairs, said it is always great to interact with Kent’s Indian Student Association.

“I appreciate (student’s) engagement in cultural activities,” Little said.

For Ashley Heilman, a sophomore advertising major, this was her first time attending a Diwali celebration.

“It was my first time attending and I was so glad I did,” Heilman said. “I did not know what to expect but I loved it so much and will definitely be coming back next year.”

India Said is a diversity editor for the Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]