Diwali festival shares Indian new year with UM

An estimated 800 people attended the Diwali show this weekend, hosted by an Indian mock-family of five UM students from the Indian Students Association [ISA] and held at the North Miami Beach Performing Arts Center.

Traditional Indian food was served at the event.

“The food was delectable, the performances were tantalizing and the skits were belly-busting hilarious,” Pushpak Taunk, senior, said.

Diwali, the Indian new year, celebrates the emergence out of darkness and into light and knowledge. This festival of lights signifies the renewal of life. It is common for people to light small oil lamps, called diyas, and candles to celebrate the day.

This year, UM students were able to celebrate with an audience.

The show opened with a documentary filmed by the Hindu Students Association. In this film, a host asked UM students questions about the Hindu religion and caught their answers on tape. Many of the responses were blank stares.

The acts in the show included classical, traditional and modern Indian dancing as well as a vocal performance. The comical family represented some stereotypes of an Indian family: strict parents with heavy accents, an aspiring singer daughter, a cricket player son and a tag-along neighbor.

One act that got the audience riled was a choreographed dance competition between boys and girls, known as antakshri. With the audience as the judges, it was clear that the girls won.

“It was an awesome show that truly managed to display the full array of Indian culture,” said Bhargava Kondaveeti, sophomore and ISA board treasurer.

In addition to ISA’s showcasing of Indian culture, UM’s Filipino Students Association also took part as performers in this occasion.

“The show was a great cultural fusion,” said Deepika Aneja, junior and program coordinator. “Without a great board and performers, the show would not have been possible.”

According to organizers, performers prepared for months to make the event a success.

“Participating in the show made me feel more in touch with my roots and gave me more appreciation for my culture,” Ankita Desai, freshman, said.

“This year’s Diwali show turned out great,” said Aaron Carter, ISA public relations officer. “It was the culmination of all the hard work of each member of ISA, and it showed in each of the dances. Also, the floral decorations and lighting in the arts center set the tone.”

“I love how the annual show gives a chance for UM students to experience a taste of Indian culture,” Carter said. “I will definitely attend next year’s show, and don’t be surprised to see me in a few of the dances, too.”

For more information, contact ISA President Naveen Bellam at n.bellam@umiami.edu.

Shalu Patel can be contacted at shalu03@hotmail.com.