Suffolk Diwali night celebrates Indian culture

By: Ryan Boyle

On the evening of Friday Oct. 25, the Suffolk community celebrated Diwali Night 2009 in the Sawyer Lounge.  Sponsored by the Center for International Education and the Suffolk Indian student community, the event featured Rangoli designing, a Punja pair, and was concluded by some authentic Indian cuisine. Diwali night has been a tradition at Suffolk University for the past seven years.

“Around 75 to 100 students, faculty, alumni, and friends participate in the event each year,” said director Scott Reedy.

Diwali is the Indian Festival of Lights, celebrating the triumph of good over evil and is traditionally celebrated during late October and early November, depending on the lunar calendar.  During the festival small lamps are lit to signify good over evil within an individual. Milk-based sweets are also prepared and given as gifts to close friends and relatives. In addition to these events, businesses start a new set of financial books to bring luck for the next business year. At night, large amounts of firecrackers are also set off in celebration.

For the Diwali celebration at Suffolk, students, faculty, and alumni started off with a Rangoli activity.  Rangoli is a form of sand painting that is usually done in entranceways depicting large floral or nature based themes.  Groups were established around tables and were tasked with creating different designs out of dry rice that was dyed different colors.  At the end of the activity, the best designs were showcased to the rest of the participants and a prize was awarded to the group with the best creativity.

After the Rangoli designing, Aditya Gupta, a Suffolk student, led the group in the Puja prayer.  The Puja is a prayer where a small offering is giving to a deity in return for their blessing.
Following the Puja, authentic Indian cuisine was served.  In response to the variety of food, Gokhan Usla, Class of 2009, said, “It’s a really nice event to get people together for good food, fun, and learning about different cultures.”

In response to the large turnout of students, Professor Gopinatah of the Sawyer Business School said, “I’m very happy its being well attended and the students are taking the initiative to organize events like this.  The organizers also made an effort to involve students of different culture backgrounds to participate in the event which adds its success.”