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Scenes from USFSP’s annual Diwali Festival

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The annual Diwali Festival lit up the USC Ballroom last Thursday at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) as students of all religions gathered to celebrate the Indian New Year together.

Diwali, or Deepavali, is a Hindu-originated festival of lights celebrated in each year in India. It is a five-day-long celebration that coincides with the Indian New Year, in which clay lamps – known diyas – are lit to signal the victory of good over evil. It is also common for people to exchange gifts and coins during the 2,500-year-old celebration. This year the major celebrations occurred on the third day of the Diwali festival, which fell on October 19.

USFSP’s Multicultural Affair Council (MAC) hosted the event. The Ballroom was filled with tables with electronic candles and flower petals placed elegantly on white table cloths. Vegetable Pakoras, Chicken 65 and Samosas, and Indian tea snacks were served in the back, and attendees could decorate their own clay lamps.

Radhika Dang, a graduate student at USFSP, opened the night up by performing a solo dance. She wore an all-white, two-piece traditional Indian dress, and looked radiant and elegant as she danced across the floor.

She then called up the rest of the dancers, all dressed in similar, colorful dresses and discussed the meaning of Diwali. They then asked everyone in attendance to raise their candles to truly begin the festival of lights. Two more group dances were performed, and one brought in audience members to dance along with them.

Students soaked up Indian music, food, dancing, and culture as they ushered in a new year.

 

Correction: The event was hosted by USFSP’s Multicultural Affair Council (MAC) and USFSP’s South Asian Association (SAA).

 

All photos courtesy of Emily Bowers/Connect.

Information for this article was gathered from http://www.history.com/news/the-ancient-origins-of-indias-biggest-holiday, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/10/19/what-diwali-festival-lights-and-how-celebrated/779643001/

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