On Friday, Oct. 12, CMU OM and Mayur SASA put together a wonderful evening to celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. The event ran from 6-12 p.m. at Rangos Ballroom and showcased musical and dance performances alongside traditional activities such as painting diyas (candles), and applying mehndi. Falling on family weekend, the event also saw many parents attend to watch their children perform, giving the celebration less of a party vibe until the Bollywood music started later in the night.
Diwali has several backstories depending on the region the festival is celebrated in. North India celebrates the festival as the return of King Rama to Ayodhya, while South India celebrates the festival as the day of the defeat of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Diwali is specifically known as the festival of lights, as on this day, families light diyas (candles) around their houses to symbolize the light vanquishing the dark, or good defeating evil. Where I come from, families also celebrate the festival by setting off fireworks throughout the night and creating patterns called rangoli in front of their homes.
The evening kicked off with people on the dance floor as bhangra music blasted over the speakers. Almost everyone was wearing their finest Indian attire for the night. Several people, myself included, picked up the dandiya sticks to form small circles and dance. Tables lined the perimeter of Rangos, with a mehndi station, a photography station that had a constant stream of people, a candle painting station that almost ruined my white outfit, and ‘Lassi Pong’, a twist on the traditional beer pong without the latter’s ‘side-effects’. After I’d finished painting a little diya, taking several pictures, and trying (but failing) at dandiya dancing, the bhangra music came to an end and the performances for the evening began.
The performances began with two a cappella groups, CMU Saans and Deewane a cappella. Both groups were absolutely amazing, although their mics could have been placed a bit better. Following them were performances from three dance groups: CMU Bhangra, Raasta, and Sahara. All three received enthusiastic applause from its audience, and their energy was captivating to say the least. During the performances, people also enjoyed the Indian buffet that had been laid out, which was covered as part of the admission ticket cost.
After the night’s performances came to an end, the parents in the room drifted off to their hotel rooms as the Bollywood music began to play over the speakers. Maybe it was because it was a Friday night and it was a long week after midterms, but the room filled with unleashed energy that literally had the floors vibrating. As a Tamilian, I was a bit miffed that the night’s playlist mainly consisted of Hindi songs but those small complaints faded to mist as the night progressed. Everyone was excited, everyone let loose and the enthusiasm was hard not to be a part of. The evening ended on a high note that had people tired and drained, with huge smiles lighting up their faces.