Diwali The Indian Festival of Lights
As Kent State celebrates another informative International Education Week, students will have numerous opportunities to be entertained and enlightened thanks to the various events which are scheduled throughout the week. To conclude this year’s International Education Week, the Kent Indian Association will host a Diwali Festival on November 19 at 6:00pm in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. It is a festival that should not be missed.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is traditionally celebrated throughout Central Asia in the middle of October, although the exact date and time will vary from year to year. In India, the celebration of Diwali will typically last anywhere from three to five days, as the duration also varies from region to region within the country. Even though different regions may celebrate Diwali for a different amount of time or for a slightly different reason, the holiday is still an uplifting experience that the entire country can celebrate and enjoy. For most Indians, Diwali is “a strong belief that binds everyone in the country together.”
Diwali originates from the story about the exile of King Ram. After a 14-year exile, King Ram was able to return to his kingdom and its people. To honor the return of their King and his Queen, the people lit lanterns and placed lights in all of their windows. In modern day, Diwali has become more of a social festival as people gather with friends and family. While people still celebrate by placing lights in their windows, the holiday is now additionally focused around Rangoli, an artform in which geometric and free form patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or outdoor courtyards using various colored materials. People also share all manner of sweets with one another.
Dancers perform during the 2016 Kent State Diwali Festival.
The current president of the Kent Indian Association, Aditi Tidke, is from Mumbai, India and is currently a sophomore studying fashion design. She has spent the past three months organizing and planning the association’s Diwali celebration. During her first semester at Kent, Aditi met many people who were members of the Kent Indian Association and she decided to become a volunteer for the organization. Other members of the association immediately noticed Aditit’s natural talent for speaking in front of others and her ability to be a leader. In her second semester, Aditi became the head of marketing for the association and, now in her third semester, she has become its president.
With this semester being her first as president, Aditi has demonstrated her remarkable talents by planning and organizing the Diwali festival. “The association really just wants to have the audience become part of the celebration,” explains Aditi. “Especially for other Indian students, we are trying to build a home away from home, give them some comfort and a sense of community.”
Aditi acknowledges that in India, children are taught from a very young age, through extremely popular animated movies, why Diwali and its related traditions are celebrated year after year. “This is really a time for people to realize their homeland and where they came from. It is such an important time that even if someone is poor, they will still save their money so that they can celebrate Diwali.”
Having taken several months to plan, this year’s Diwali celebration will feature a presentation to enlighten others about Diwali, a fashion show, and a number of singing and dancing performances. In addition, the event will feature ice breaker games, giveaways and a buffet replete with Indian food. Admission to all of the food and festivities is only $6.00.
Aditi and the Kent Indian Association invite the entire Kent State community to celebrate Diwali with them and to feel welcome throughout the festivities. Their wish is for all to better understand the magnitude and magnificence of the Festival of Lights.