Suffolk community celebrates Diwali

Members+of+Fusion+Dhamaka

Courtesy of @bu_ops

Members of Fusion Dhamaka

People around the world celebrated Diwali, otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, on Oct. 24 as part of the days-long festival that reveres “the triumph of good over evil,” according to the Suffolk University Interfaith Center.

“Diwali is an Asian and southeast Asian festival that occurs on a lunar calendar,” said Rev. Amy Fisher of the Interfaith Center.

Fisher noted that Diwali is not limited to just one religion.

“Many religions celebrate Diwali; Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism. It is an ancient harvest festival and generally lasts four days,” she said.

Rhea Katoch, a senior at Suffolk, said Diwali is not just a festival, but a chance to appreciate both family and culture.

“For me personally, I view it as a great way to share my culture with people. I love going over to family friends’ houses or having them over and just sharing my culture whether that be the fun aspects or the religious aspects,” Katoch said.

Diwali’s celebrations are “grounded in tales of the Gods & Goddesses including Rama, Kali, Ganesha, Krishna, Lakshmi, Parvati, and Shiva, associated with wealth, prosperity, and goodness,” according to the Interfaith Center website. 

I wish people knew more about the history behind why Diwali is celebrated and all the fun things we get to do in the celebration,” Katoch said.

Diwali holds a special place in many people’s hearts, said freshman Khushi Sharma.

“It means a lot to me because this is a festival that brings everyone together and families exchange gifts with each other,” she said. “In India we used to celebrate by lighting up fireworks by the end of the day.”

Other traditions include lighting candles, engaging in prayer and eating with family.

“For celebration, in my house we usually do a prayer with incense and candles and tea light candles as well as diyas which are tiny tea lights or lamp like containers made with clay or mud,” Katoch said. “We then eat lots of yummy food, especially Indian sweets and hang out with friends and family and burn fireworks.”

Diwali is also known for its intricate cultural wear, which Katoch said is one of her favorite aspects of the holiday.

I just love dressing up for Diwali. I get to wear colorful and sparkly clothes and jewelry and that’s one of the fun parts for me as well,” said Katoch.

To support peers celebrating Diwali this year, Fisher said students can use a variety of greetings to encompass everyone.

What I think is important is to try to appreciate what a standard or good greeting would be. ‘Happy Diwali’ is a very good greeting that anyone can say. The way I say it is ‘Happy Diwali if you celebrate’, or ‘Happy Diwali to all who celebrate’,” she said.

The Interfaith Center is dedicated to spreading knowledge and giving students of all religions a safe space to learn and practice various cultures. For students celebrating Diwali, Fisher said there is a dedicated space in the center to set up a Puja, a worship ritual practiced by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.

“My feeling is that the [purpose] of an Interfaith Center is to have your religion recognized for its importance, and for the knowledge to be out there for people who do not celebrate Diwali, particularly because it is a lunar religious celebration that moves around,” Fisher said.

As a student, Katoch said events like Fusion Dhamaka’s upcoming “Fusion Fest” on Oct. 28 make embracing her culture on campus an enjoyable and carefree experience.

I love the fact that Diwali is around the time Fusion Dhamaka has their event,” she said. “Going to that event at school especially makes me happy as I get to hear songs from my country and people dressed up in clothing from my culture, it just makes me feel very connected to the cultural aspect of my identity as they even serve Indian food at the event.”

Fisher said the center is always open for students to discuss setting up religious celebrations, prayer space or religious-related absences from class. The Interfaith Center is located on the eighth floor of Sawyer, and can be found on Instagram @su_interfaith. Fisher can be reached via email through [email protected]

More information on Fusion Fest can be found on Fusion Dhamaka’s Instagram @suffolk.dhamaka.