In their 8th year running, the Indian Students Association is planning for their annual Divali show this Saturday. Divali is the Hindu Festival of Lights.
This year, with a new committee board, the emphasis of the show has shifted from religious to educational.
“I don’t want to say that we’re being really politically correct but that’s what’s so great about this board,” said Roshan Shah, public relations director for ISA. “Not even all the Hindus in the organization understood the significance of everything, so we made it more educational. The content is the same, but the emphasis has shifted.”
ISA is one of the most active student cultural organizations on campus with over 60 student members taking part in the festival this year.
Members of the board include Additya Vora, president; Mitesh Jivan and Deepak Thani, webmasters; Angelique Kirpalani, secretary; Neha Patel, freshman representative; Shah and four others.
The organization is made up of some students of Indian ethnicity, much less all of Hindu denomination.
“The board realizes that our members are made of a lot of different religions-Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs-so we wanted to make it not just an event for Hindus, but an event about cultural understanding,” Shah said.
Shah also said that the ISA board decided that they needed to attract more people who were not Indian to the show.
There will be 25 dances exhibiting Indian culture from all over the country such as Bengali and South India. UM’s Filipino Student Association’s Mag Ka Isa dance troupe will also perform, as well as students from Coral Reef high school.
“We’re really close to ISA and they asked us to dance to add diversity,” said Theresa Maramag, Mag Ka Isa dance captain.
They will be performing the Filipino national dance called the Tinikling in which dancers jump through bamboo sticks placed on the floor imitating the Filipino tikling bird, said Maramag.
“It will be a full night of culture and education,” said another ISA PR director, Quang Ton, who is also president of the Filipino Students’ Association on campus.
“It’s eclectic, mixing different generations, but it will also be humorous,” Ton said.
The event will be hosted at the North Miami Performing Arts Center because the cost of having it on campus is too high, Shah said.
“We wanted to bring it back to the university at Gusman Hall but they have less seating,” Shah said.
In addition to cultural dances there will be a play done by the masters of ceremonies and a Hindu prayer- or aarti.
An aarti is a short prayer made to the Hindu god, Ganesh. While a song is played and a picture of Ganesh is laid out on the altar, participants rotate small candles in clay dishes called diyas.
The profits from the festival go towards an as-of-yet undecided charity and an annual cruise the members of ISA take at the end of the school year.
“Usually, we make quite a nice profit. This is our biggest event,” Shah said.
Tickets are being sold in the Breezeway today for $10, $15 and $20. For more information, contact Shah at 305-689-4939.