The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Lighting up the dark: UVM’s Indian Subcontinent Student Association celebrates Diwali

Alexandra Bodelle
Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil and symbolizes light.

With the days getting darker, UVM’s Indian Subcontinent Student Association lit up the night with a magnificent celebration of Diwali Saturday, Nov. 11.

The event filled up the Davis Center’s Grand Maple Ballroom with students, alumni and community members of all ages, many of whom wore traditional saris, dhotis and bright colors in honor of the Hindu festival of lights.

The audience was addressed by Suresh Garimella, president of the University, along with other voices. They shared Diwali’s pertinent and heart-warming message that light penetrates darkness and that good has the power to overcome evil. 

Ali Mahmood, a graduate student and staff member at the UVM’s Interfaith Center, attended the Diwali celebration.

“In Indian Subcontinent culture, Diwali is like a holiday for everybody and it gives hope and symbolizes light […] It symbolizes the defeat of good versus bad and also a coming back home,” said Mahmood.

Many of the viewers claimed that the performances were the highlight of the celebration. (Alexandra Bodelle)

A series of performances ranging from dance groups to poetry readings followed the speakers. These performances were the highlight of the night for many people.

“I especially loved all the dances: there were a lot of really cool dances and it was really impressive to see, especially all the different styles and the clothes. People were wearing wonderful things,” said graduate student Per Wagenius, who attended the performance.

Mahmood also appreciated the performers’ talent and how the dances reminded him of home.

“Some of [the dances] are really cultural, like there was a Maharashtra which is a South Indian performance, and there was a performance of the Kathak, a very famous traditional movement dance, so some of those things remind you of home, and for me that is very special,” said Mahmood. 

While some enjoyed the show from the audience, senior Katreena Suvramanian, a member of UVM Jazbaa, described what it was like to be on stage.

“It was very fun. It was an awesome opportunity to be a part of it all, to celebrate Diwali and get to dance. Jazbaa has been dancing in Diwali for like six years now,” Suvramanian said.

After the performances, the ISSA gave out an assortment of raffle items, followed by a buffet on the Davis Center’s fourth floor that people enjoyed with their friends and family.

“I heard that some students made the dishes themselves, and also they made the tea, so that was handmade and pretty good. My favorite dish was the potato curry,” said Mahmood.

As mealtime wrapped up, the dance floor opened up in the ballroom where groups of people were dancing, clapping and laughing together to the music.

“The dance party is the one that brings everyone together and everybody dances so I love the dancing, it is something I look forward to,” said Mahmood.

The night could not have happened without a huge effort on the part of the ISSA.

Orchestrating Diwali 2023 is a month-long process, said graduate student Protiva Sen, president of the ISSA.

Members of the community performed during the celebration ranging from dance to poetry. (Alexandra Bodelle)

“We had to reach out to the sponsors so we could plan and fund everything for our event,” Sen said. “And then we also sold the tickets online, provided them to ISSA members, we had to make flyers, banners and we put marketing stuff around campus so that people can get to know that Diwali is happening.” 

Sen expressed her gratitude for the hard work and devotion that members of the ISSA executive board put into making it all happen. 

“I am really proud of being a member of ISSA,” said Sen.

Aayudh Das, a UVM alum ‘22 who performed a musical medley on stage, applauded UVM’s ISSA.

“I have been to different universities where I have been involved,” said Das. “But, trust me, UVM, whatever they do, they put together a show for Diwali like this, and no one can do this. So, a big cheer for the ISSA team.”

The warm glow of the night can be attributed not only to the hot food, decorative fairy lights and rainbow candles distributed to each guest, but also to the warmth that comes with a community gathering. 

“I think it was a great celebration,” said Suvramanian. “The decorations are beautiful, there were amazing performers and performances, there’s awesome food and it was lovely getting to celebrate. Happy Diwali!”

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