News

Indian celebration lights up University Center

As the holiday season approaches, occasions such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are at the forefront of people’s minds.

On Tuesday night a different occasion took center stage.

Lights, colors and culture illuminated the University Center, as the Hindu Students Council (HSC) celebrated Diwali, a major Indian festival.

Beneath the mystique of the night sky, decorated with colorful garments called saris and lit by lamps known as diyas, the University Center gave off the aura of a traditional Diwali setting in India.

“It was really cold outside,” said Sumit Mehta, HSC’s freshmen representative. “Despite that, though, I think holding the puja outside made it more memorable, and I liked celebrating Diwali in a more traditional way.”

Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” is a religious holiday that is celebrated with great fervor throughout India and many other parts of the world. It is an occasion where people wear their new clothes, prepare Indian delicacies and offer prayers.

“The diyas are a representation of striving for inner enlightenment, for on this day, just as businesses create a balance sheet of annual happenings, Diwali inspires us to create a balance sheet of this yesteryear of our lives,” said senior Janki Amin, the vice president of HSC. “It inspires us to remove our envies, enmities, obsessions and bitterness and, in the balance, maintain our love, faith and enthusiasm in life.”

As a way of illustrating Indian culture and rituals to the student community, the Hindu Students Council celebrated Diwali in the form of a Diwali puja.

“A puja is ritual where people come together to offer devotion,” said senior Vikalp Patel, the treasurer of HSC. “It gives us an opportunity to get closer to family and friends.”

Open to all UM students, the event played host to over 70 students from various cultural backgrounds.

“I didn’t know much about Diwali or the event,” junior Chris Johnson said. “Some of my friends told me about it, and they said it was open to everyone, so I went. It was nice experiencing the Hindu culture, as they did a good job setting the ambiance with the lamps.”

The HSC diwali puja is an informal event that has taken place at the university for the past few years. Students are encouraged to come and participate in whatever manner they feel comfortable, whether it be offering hymns, offering various prayers or simply sitting and singing along or listening.

“I was a little scared to come out because I’m not Indian,” sophomore Kimberly Adams said. “But, when I got out there, it was warm and inviting. There were packets explaining things, which allowed everyone to get involved.”

The puja kicked off with an explanation of Diwali and the significance behind the festival. Students then offered hymns and prayers, before performing aarti (a ritual of offering diyas and prayers before the idol of God) and proceeding to a warm Indian meal.

“I thought it was a very successful event,” senior Monica Chatwal said. “In comparison to past years, this was the best puja I have been to. There were more people who attended this year, and more people got involved. It was nice.”

October 29, 2008

Reporters

Siddharth Mahure

Contributing News Writer


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

University of Miami coach Mark Richt apparently is a fan of President Teddy Roosevelt’s — or at leas ...

If there was one freshman the Miami Hurricanes knew would have to help entering the season, Brevin J ...

Not only has Gerald Willis been one of the best stories of the Miami Hurricanes’ season, he has also ...

The Miami Hurricanes started the season No. 8 nationally in both major polls. Now, they’re nowhere t ...

With a bye week on the horizon, the meager University of Miami offense has nearly two weeks to attem ...

More than 600 students participate in the National Gandhi Day of Service, the largest annual service ...

Home Truth, the story of Jessica Lenahan’s pursuit of more effective domestic violence laws, screene ...

Members of the UM community who want to donate to relief efforts for those impacted by Hurricanes Mi ...

The University of Miami’s Model UN is working to expand its membership and reputation with its first ...

During a keynote address at a conference in Los Angeles, entrepreneurial heavyweight Magic Leap anno ...

The Miami Hurricanes volleyball team improved to 10-5, 6-2 in the ACC, with a 3-0 sweep of Boston Co ...

The Miami women's tennis team closed the Bedford Cup with a perfect day, winning each match in ...

"In The Pool" is a series highlighting the University of Miami swimming & diving stude ...

Playing in front of a boisterous home crowd, the University of Miami soccer team earned a, 1-1, draw ...

The Hurricanes fell in their ACC road opener to the Virginia Cavaliers. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.