Dancing was the theme of the night at Old Dominion University’s ninth annual Diwali celebration festival, hosted by the Indian Student Association. Diwali “Festival of Lights” is the most popular holiday in India and other Hindu practicing countries, and has been celebrated for centuries. Diwali is typically a five-day festival in India, but at ODU it was condensed to a single night.
The ODU community celebrated on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Ted Constant Center with a gathering of students, faculty and the general public to a night of games, dancing and a traditional Indian feast. Public Relations officer of the Indian Student Association Sai chaitanya Tirumerla summed up why Diwali is celebrated and its storied history.
“Usually held in India to celebrate the triumph of good against evil, we usually light fireworks which represent good, and darkness represents ignorance, and we also wanted to enlighten everyone about the history,” Tirumerla said.
Diwali features the lighting of candles and lanterns and is a time for friends, families, and neighbors to come together and enjoy the holiday together.
Several dance performances were held and featured traditional Indian performers dancing to different styles of Indian music. Both group dances, and solo performances helped spark up the evening and was met with much fanfare and applause from the audience. This included one very special rendition of “Gangnam Style” from Big Blue himself.
“My favorite part of the night was definitely the dancing, you don’t get to see this type of dancing very much in the U.S. so it was very refreshing,” doctoral student Faisal Mahmud said.
The Diwali celebration kicked off the beginning of International Education Week, a national recognizance week of other cultures and countries. As part of the night’s main event, three fashion shows were held, showcasing both traditional Indian attire, as well as international attire from around the world. International students took part in the event by strutting down the runway showing off traditional garbs.
“This year has been very special. The Indian Student Association has been able to collaborate with many domestic and international student organizations to put together the event. This is important because it shows collaboration, that we are working together to build a global society at ODU,” Assistant Director of International Initiatives Rachawan Wongtrirat said.
Upon arrival, attendees were handed a Bingo card, and at several times throughout the night, numbers were called and prizes awarded. At the conclusion of the night, raffle tickets were drawn and one very lucky guest walked away with a Google tablet. There was a Henna tattoo station for those who wanted to get a temporary tattoo.
Dinner was served to everyone in attendance, and featured traditional Indian dishes such as paneer masala, yellow basmati rice, mixed curry, roti aaloo and naan. During dinner, children were brought on stage for a dance competition and candy and prizes were given out to those that participated.
The evening’s festivities concluded appropriately with a fast paced medley dancing performance.
By: Andrew Tompkins