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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Co-founder of Hindu American Foundation at Diwali celebration

<arks of celebration were almost bursting above the Great Hall on the evening of Oct. 18 for the occasion of Diwali, an Indian festival of light. The religious and cultural event was marked by scented candles, prayers, spicy curries, classical Indian dances and elegant traditional outfits.
Ms. Suhag A. Shukla, the co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation, was welcomed to light the ‘diya,’ the lamp and to acquaint the students and visitors with the meaning and history of Diwali.

According to Shukla, Diwali is a true symbol of diversity of customs and beliefs among the Indian communities in India and in the United States.

Shukla elaborated on how, before the actual day of festivity, people belonging to not just the Hindu community, but also other religious sects, perform various rituals that symbolize each of the following: unity, wealth and rejuvenation.

It is believed that on the eve of Diwali, Lord Rama returned to his kingdom of Ayodhyaya after an exile of fourteen years during which he defeated the demon Ravana.Shukla summarized the story that is associated with this festival. Her summary, in the form of a poem, read:

“The residents rejoiced and lined up all the streets; With rows of earthen lamps, distributing snacks and sweets; Rama, Sita and Lakshman, their return was a time of elation; And so started Diwali, through the ages a celebration.”

The evening at the Great Hall was rich with numerous dazzling song and dance performances. While two performers, Vaishali Umrikar ’13 and Arpita Bhattacharyya ’10, showcased traditional Indian dances, others like Bittu Kri ’10 and Lippi Gupta ’12 sang soothing melodies from different Indian music genres.

The celebrations ended with an entertaining ‘Bollywood Medley’ by the Carleton group Desi.

Like a candle flame that breaks the barriers of the dark, the festival of Diwali was both sizzling and enlightening.

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