Participants of the annual Diwali Festival had the opportunity Saturday evening to experience Indian culture and enjoy the country’s cuisine.
The event was hosted in the Student Center Ballroom from 5-9 p.m. and was organized by the Indian Student Association and the Indian Cultural Association of East Alabama.
“Diwali is the festival of lights,” said Vineet Nayak, the Indian Students Association’s website manager. “[Diwali] signifies victory of light over dark or good over evil, and that’s what we celebrate.”
Diwali is a five day holiday that's held at different times each year. This year, Diwali took place from Oct. 17 to 21.
“It’s pretty much like Christmas,” Nayak said.
Lights were strung up inside and at the entrance of the student center as it is a longstanding tradition to put up lights for Diwali. Another tradition is to have sand art which was on display at the entrance to the ballroom.
“You meet old friends, you enjoy the music, and enjoy the food,” said Pradosh Ray who came to campus to observe Diwali.
Doors opened at 4:30 p.m., and by 5:30 p.m. the tables at the front of the ballroom, as well as the seating in the back, were almost completely full.
Taffye Clayton, the associate provost and vice president for inclusion and diversity, was the chief guest and gave a speech soon after the start of the program.
“At a time for recommitting ourselves to do more to make a difference in the life of others, I am so happy to join this evening in celebrating light over darkness and good over evil, knowledge of ignorance, compassion over hate.” Clayton said, “[Auburn] is a place where students can come from every corner of the country and every part of the globe to experience the richness of diversity that is evidenced on our campus.”
Over a dozen different groups of men, women and children performed Indian music and dance. Some of the music and dancing was traditional while other performances included popular Bollywood songs.
Traditional Indian instruments were played during the program including the Tabla.
“[The Tabla] is very traditional to Indian music,” said Somak Das, a member of Auburn’s Cultural Music Society. "The technology is like the bongo then one hand you have bass drum, on one hand, you have the lead drum.”
Somak is the lead singer for the band Noisy Neighbors who finished the program.
Additional instruments used included the Indian flute.
“The Indian classical flute is made of bamboo, so the sound is much more wooden, and the holes don't have any cover, you have to cover it with your fingers,” said Ujan Mukhopadhyay, who played the Indian flute during the program.
After the program, Indian cuisine was served to guests who purchased tickets. The Auburn-Arkansas game was played in the ballroom for fans to watch while they enjoyed their food.