As South Asians across the globe prepare for Nov. 4 — the day of Diwali — Wake Forest students that are part of the South Asian Student Association (SASA), the Hindu Student Association (HSA), the Asian Student Interest Group (ASIA) and members of the South Asian community at-large are preparing to celebrate it and other Southeast Asian holidays on campus.
Diwali, a holiday observed by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists celebrates the triumph of good over evil — light over darkness. In the ancient story, the god Rama frees his wife Sita, vanquishes the evil Ravana — who kidnapped Sita — and returns to his kingdom, Ayodhya.
Traditionally, people celebrate by going to temple, wearing new clothes, lighting candles, oil lamps and fireworks; and throwing a feast.
“Diwali is more than a celebration of light and goodness — it’s an opportunity for family and friends to gather and enjoy time together,” freshman Ishan Viradia said.
This year, SASA, IHA and ASA are working together to put on a “Holiday Fest”. The festival is planned for Nov. 12, from 7:00-10:30 PM in Benson 401.
“We don’t want it to be just for the Indian population, we want our peers and other members of the community to celebrate with us,” SASA President Anusha Vora said of the event.
She continued: “We want it to be non-denominational and have everyone celebrate, even if it’s something someone doesn’t celebrate at home.”
HSA Treasurer Aman Khemlani is also excited about the event.
“Our aim is to expose the Wake Forest community to the various holidays of Southeast Asian cultures,” Khemlani said. “As we strive to keep the event open and accessible to all and also have it serve as an educational opportunity, we have planned to incorporate not just Diwali, but multiple holidays that happen throughout South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures.”
The event will feature dancing, food, educational tables and more. In an effort to be inclusive of more Asian cultures, the event will serve both Indian and Thai cuisine. Members of the organizations will be wearing traditional clothing.
Each organization will have its own educational table and will discuss their own festivals that happen around this time and are “near and dear,” as well as providing education on Diwali itself, according to Vora.
After the educational tables and dinner the Indian dance group Deacon Dhamaals will perform. Then the dance floor will open to everyone else.
“I am looking forward to the Deacon Dhamaals performance,” SASA member Mansi Patel said. “The team has been working super hard and is super pumped.”
According to Vora, members of the administration might also be in attendance. The organizations invited President Susan Wente, Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue and Provost Rogan Kersh.
“I believe this event is an excellent opportunity to teach the Wake Forest community about the cultures, traditions and holidays of our communities as our presence on campus grows larger and the undergraduate body becomes increasingly diverse,” Khemlani said. “It’s an educational opportunity for those not from the respective cultures, and at the same time, a place where South Asians and Southeast Asians can feel at home and embrace their culture.”