Diwali: A celebration of being triumphant

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

The University of North Alabama’s Global Lions will be hosting “Diwali: Festival of Lights” on Nov. 12 in the Communications Building from 6-8 p.m.

Diwali is a five-day festival in India, which was derived from the Sanskrit term dipavali, meaning “a row of lights.”  The festival, one of India’s biggest, celebrates the victory of good over evil and brightness over darkness.

“It’s a celebration of being triumphant,” said Nayan Bhattacharyya, UNA senior and Indian Global Lions Vice President. “It’s us celebrating the good times of our life … that life is not a long battle. It stands for coming back home and celebrating with your friends and family. It stands for taking it easy after facing problems.”

While this festival is honored by everyone in India, the reason why they are celebrating may be different than their neighbors.

In North India, people are celebrating the return of Lord Rama, a Hindu god, and his wife to their kingdom after Rama’s defeat of a demon. In Southern India, people are celebrating another Hindu god by the name of Lord Krishna’s slaying of a demon.

Regardless of which god they are celebrating, everyone enjoys the festival in a similar way. 

Srinidhi Siddi, a junior and secretary of Global Lions, said that in preparation for Diwali, her family typically cleans the house for the gods.

Cleaning rituals are not uncommon for Diwali as it is seen in Indian culture as both a welcoming of positive energy and a representation of being a good host.  

“We put flowers in the house and lanterns,” Siddi said. “Then, we start to do rituals, offering [the gods] the food. After prayers, we leave the temple, let the gods eat the food that we offered, and we go back and eat what they[have eaten]. It’s called Prasad. We are eating his leftovers, which is a greatness for us.”

In addition to cleaning, praying and feasting with family, people colorfully decorate their homes, hang up electric lights and pop fireworks. But perhaps the most prominent way to celebrate Diwali is through the release of a diya, which is a clay oil lamp.  

Although clay lamps and fireworks are seen as fire hazards on campus, Global Lions have found other means to make their Diwali celebratory for students. 

“[Instead] we will be doing electric lanterns,” Sophomore and Global Lions President Ritu Patel said. “[Another thing that] we will be doing is sharing a video and a PowerPoint about Diwali in the COM theater. After that, we will be serving snacks and dancing on some Indian music. Some of the Indian students will [even] be wearing our traditional clothes.”

Patel said Diwali is equivalent to Americans celebrating Christmas.

Global Lions is not only hoping to give its Indian students a sense of home, but also hoping to give domestic students a glimpse into Indian culture. 

“We understand that we can’t just [throw] them into this,” Bhattacharyya said. “[So] we’ll try to show them the spirit of the festival and try to help people understand why it means so much to us.”

Bhattacharyya said that they are wanting to show them the religious aspects, but also the same felicity he experienced growing up – the sweetest of the sweets, the illumination of lights. 

“With everything that has happened in the past year, we see there has been a complete change in the way that we live, the way we interact with people, we all need some positivity,” Bhattacharyya said. “[Diwali] is very positive. It brings about happiness and joy in people, and we want to share that with everyone.”

Global Lions will be taking safety precautions by ensuring masks are worn properly, temperatures are being taken and food is being served by people who will be sanitizing and wearing gloves. 

“We want to make sure [Diwali] is also done safely,” Bhattacharyya said.

Bhattacharyya said that he has attempted to have Diwali for a while and they are excited to finally get it going. 

“I really hope that everyone enjoys it, that they are able to understand our feelings,” Bhattacharyya said. “After the year everyone has had, it has been tough on everyone. I hope people are able to let loose and have a good time.”