Have you ever heard of India’s Diwali? Indians celebrated their Diwali this year from October 27-31. It’s one of the most popular festivals in India, and is similar to our Chinese New Year. TCU’s Department of English Language and Literature, International College, and the Center for English Education sponsored this Diwali celebration, and invited Indian students to introduce their cultural tradition to us.
People celebrate Diwali during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika, which is between mid-October and mid-November, and depending on geographical locations, the period of celebration for southern India is different from that of northern India. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.” In the lead-up to Diwali, celebrants will prepare by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes and workplaces. During the climax, people adorn themselves in their finest clothes, illuminate the interiors and exteriors of their homes with oil lamps or candles, worship the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where sweets and gifts are shared. On the last day, wives go back to their parents’ homes and enjoy their family reunion.
In order for participants to experience how Indians celebrate their Diwali, Indian students spent three hours making a Rangoli, which is an Indian art form. Its patterns are created on the floor or the ground, using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals, and it is usually made during Diwali. Rangoli is colorful, and families make it at their front entrances. The Indian students guided participants to light candles, place them on the Rangoli, and then make wishes.
A total of fifty, including faculty members, staff and students, who are from various countries, attended this event. “I have never heard of Diwali, so I decided to come.” Michelle Huang, an English senior, was very happy that TCU sponsored this activity, enabling students to experience other cultures. TCU has many Indian students, so we are fortunate to have the opportunity to experience this Indian tradition.
An Oriental Languages and Literature freshman, who is from Indonesia, shared that, Diwali wasn’t new to him, but he had never attended a Diwali celebration. He was delighted to come to this event, and met many new friends who are from various countries.
Another international student is from Thailand. She said that she might have met some Indian students on the campuses, but never talked to them. She was happy to get closer to them, through this event. As Taiwanese celebrated their Chinese New Year, Indians celebrated their Diwali, and in her country, Thai people celebrated the Songkran Festival. She was glad to study in Taiwan, so she could come across a variety of cultural experiences.
Indian students arranged a number of programs, and students enjoyed dancing together in an Indian way. This was a special day, so all the female Indian students wore their saris. Meeran, who was in charge of this event, said that Diwali Festival is very popular in India, where the entire family gets together to celebrate. Meeran had celebrated Chinese New Year with her peers in Taiwan, so she wished to invite TCU’s faculty members, staff and students to celebrate Diwali with Indian students, to know more about India and the Diwali Festival’s meaning.