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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Diwali celebrations light up the community

Photo by Creative Commons

The community lights lamps and candles to celebrate Diwali.

On campus and around the world, people are celebrating the Hindu festival of lights. 
The autumn holiday represents the triumph of good over evil, often rooted in the Hindu epic of Rama defeating King Ravana and his army. 
According to Srikari Ayyagari, a board member of the Indian Student Association (ISA), the practice of setting up lights for the festival not only has historical significance but also helps her connect with friends and family. 
“The basic premise of Diwali is the triumph of good over evil,” Ayyagari said. “The light represents the good and the dark represents evil, so we light up as many dark places so the good can touch all of us. We would leave all of the lights on throughout the house as well as light lamps on the outside. The reason we use lamps specifically is because the heat from it is said to also help kill off evil.”
Srinivasa Sunkari, Class of 1992, is a research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and  a member of the local Hindu temple in Bryan. Sunkari said since Hindu festivals do not usually fall on weekends, the local Hindu community came together to celebrate before the actual day of the festival, which falls on Wednesday this year.
“Over the weekend, we held a prayer at the temple as well as entertainment and food, ending with fireworks,” Sunkari said. “Indian graduate students host these events to allow them to connect with the community. We also had non-Hindu members of the university attend.” 
There are also important rites and rituals performed on Diwali in addition to festival celebrations. According to Sunkari, these practices are more personal and tend to fill the whole day. 
“On the day of the actual festival, the celebrations are usually conducted with your close friends and family,” Sunkari said. “Although it is a small and intimate celebration, it usually looks beautiful. We will plant oil lamps all throughout the house and join each other for small prayer and food.”
Indian Student Association President Devaki Patel, is hosting an event called Bollywood Night on the day of Diwali. 
“Where I’m from, the people of the community usually get together and host a sort of talent show,” Patel said. “The kids would usually perform skits, and people would sing songs.” 
Patel said she sees Diwali as a way to bring the community together.
“We’re going to try and have everyone in the Indian community, especially those who feel homesick and can’t be with family, join us in celebration during Bollywood Night,” Patel said. “We will have entertainment and food as well as lights as decoration.”
According to Ayyagari, non-Hindus often join the celebrations as well. 
“Even though the festival comes from a god defeating a demon, the idea behind it is a story of good and evil and that is something that is found throughout all societies,” Ayyagari said. “At the end of the day, it’s a reason to see loved ones and eat good food.”

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