Festival of Lights | Photo by Indian Student Association
On Nov. 9, the Indian Student Association had its largest celebration of Diwali, the Festival of Lights.
Festival of Lights
Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, is a traditional Hindu holiday that spans over five days. It is a festival that represents light and celebration.
The Indian Student Association held the colorful event in the Student Union and opened the event to everyone in the greater Dayton community to celebrate Indian culture.
Potential attendees first RSVPd on a site called Eventbrite.
“People who planned on attending had to RSVP through [Eventbrite] because we wanted to make sure we had enough food,” Sai Bhavana Meda, the president of ISA, said.
The event offered music, dance, food and many wonderful and talented performers.
Bhavana pointed out that the event is significant because many of the students are away from family during this large holiday, so it gives those students a chance to celebrate.
In addition, there was a major announcement for students of Indian descent. ISA announced the creation of the Indian Student Association Scholarship, funded by WSU alumnus Sri Lakshmikanth Dammu. Students who qualify may be considered if they apply for the online scholarship application.
The approach to this event was a bit different than in previous years.
“We made an effort to put the words ‘Festival of Light’ on the fliers for the event,” Bhavana said. “We don’t want people who are Christian or Muslim to see the flier and think, ‘Oh, that isn’t for me.’ So instead, we made this decision to make the event more about Indian culture, so we didn’t exclude these groups.”
This year’s event was a resounding success.
According to Bhavana, there were over 2,000 people who RSVP’d and approximately 1,800 attendees. These are the highest numbers for an event like this in ISA history.
There was even an appearance of Niraj Antani, the first Indian American and current youngest member of the Ohio Senate. According to Bhavana, Antani agreed to come because he is a Dayton native.
“He’s from Dayton, so we reached out to see if he’d come and he did,” Bhavana said.
As a large event, ISA had to reach out for help to cater to the large number of attendees.
There was an effort by several different international clubs and the University Center for International Education to assist ISA in putting on the large event.
Several student organizations, including the Korean Club, helped out in the process of setting up and running the event. Some of the non-student organizations that helped with the event were UCIE and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
“A large population of our school are Indian students. If there is any way that we can make them feel comfortable and support them, we strive to do that,” Dr. Darryl Ahner, the dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, said.
Students from the Chinese and Korean Clubs also came to support ISA and helped where they could.
“ISA strives for inclusivity and diversity while also sharing its beautiful culture. The intention was to encourage various groups on campus to participate in preparations and celebrations,” Abigail Bond, president of the Chinese and Korean Clubs, said. “Many students, including myself, could be seen wearing Indian cultural clothing, eating delicious Southern Indian food, learning cultural dances and listening to the music within such a vibrant and beautifully decorated space.”
According to Bhavana and Bond, the collaboration of these organizations is all thanks to UCIE.
“We couldn’t do it without the help of UCIE. They help us in everything we do, and they have our utmost thanks,” Bhavana said. “If it weren’t for my team, UCIE and all of the student organizations, there would be no festival.”
If students are interested in joining ISA, Chinese Club, Korean Club or any of the other international student organizations, they are encouraged to reach out to an officer of the desired organization or sign up on Engage.