Hundreds were in attendance at the 9th Annual Diwali Festival of Lights, which was presented by UM’s Indian Students Association.
Diwali is the Hindu celebration of the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness.
“The goal of the show is to evoke joyous feelings, education, and entertainment so that we can all have a better appreciation of Indian culture”, said Deep Patel, ISA Vice-President.
Students from UM, Coral Reef High School, FIU, and talented children from the local community were among the participants in the event.
Guest speaker, Arvind Singh, an Indian man wearing a headdress and a long beard, spoke at the opening of the show about the discrimination he and many of his friends have experienced since Sept.11.
“We must never forget the multicultural ideals that are the foundation of America,” said Singh. “There is no doubt that I am proud to be an American.”
Throughout the showcase, several traditional dances were performed including Bharata Natyam, Bhangra, Raas, Garba Taandav, and a Filipino Tinikling dance.
Indian dance forms are said to be an expression of the moods of its people.
Classical dance forms are religious in content, while folk dances are reserved for happy occasions.
Not all of the show consisted of traditional customs however.
“I think it was very cool how they incorporated rave moves in the glow stick dance,” said Jorge Manuel Martinez. “I also liked how they mixed rap and reggae into some of the songs they played.”
There was also a fashion show consisting of students displaying traditional Indian male and female attire.
The theme of the show centered around a skit of a semi-Americanized Indian family who wished for nothing more than to marry their daughter to a successful business man from India who drove a silver Mercedes-Benz E-class.
“We laughed every time we practiced,” said Megha Karkera, ISA member and participant in the show.
In the end, the girl married a doctor, as is stereotypically the profession every Indian family hopes their daughter will marry into, organizers said.
“The acting in the skit was hilarious,” said Fong Li. “The accents, mannerisms, and facial expressions of the actors reminded me of the families of many of my Indian friends.”
“I really appreciated all the hard work of the students in the presentation,” said Bhagwan Asnani. “They achieved a performance that was very close to professional”.
Traditional Indian food was served during intermission.
“The food was delicious,” said sophomore Leigha Taber. “I never knew Indian food had so many types of tastes”.
“I loved all the dances,” said Taber. “After witnessing all of the rich culture behind many of the Indian traditions, I’m interested in joining ISA and participating in their activities.”
Many of those involved with the show were also very pleased with the presentation.
“Everyone has been practicing since the school year began,” said Aruna “Aunty” Airan, advisor to ISA. “Every year we are improving.”
“We wanted to build our own Diwali celebration while we are away from our familiar hometowns,” said Karkera.
“I was really happy with the turnout,” said Aaditya Vora, ISA President. “The audience nearly doubled from last year”.
After the show, an after party at was held at Club 609 in the Grove.
“It’s just going to be a regular party,” said Ru Bhatt, and ISA member who was planning to attend the festivities. “We’re not going to wear any traditional clothing or anything, we’re just going to have a good time”.