The Southeast Asian Student Association collaborated with the World Affairs Club to host a week in celebration of Diwali. Translated to “festival of lights” in Sanskrit, Diwali is a five-day holiday celebrated in South and Southeast Asia. Loyola’s celebration took place on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Sophomore Kabeer Nayyar, president of the South Asian Student Association, stated, “Diwali is extremely important to our Loyola community. This was the first-ever Diwali celebration at Loyola, and its impacts were grand. First, it normalizes the culture and traditions that many South Asian students at Loyola grew up with. Second, it brings the conversation and an exchange of ideas. This leads to our community is more educated about other cultures. And third, it sets the precedent that Loyola is an inclusive community who want to be knowledgeable about cultures, religions, and backgrounds outside of their own.”
The festival is one of the biggest holidays for Hindus and is celebrated by many other cultures such as Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists. The celebrations take place during the Hindu lunisolar month, Kartika. This holiday celebrates the victory of good over evil. The celebration resulted from the partnership of the Southeast Asian Students Association and the Office of Global Education, along with various other organizations within the Loyola community. Daniel Annarelli, head of the Office of Global Education, stated, “There was a lot of collaboration in the project. We brought in Mr. Brown from the Office of Equity and Inclusion, we brought in, obviously, the South East Asian Student Association. We also brought in Mr. Crowfut as an expert on world religions and Fr. Biegler, SJ, and then finally we got Mr. Walter, as the head of student activities, to help us logistically find a place outside and to sell food, this collaboration made it a really well-organized, well-planned event.”
Nayyar stated, “The Diwali celebration shows that Loyola strives to stand in solidarity with other cultures. Diwali is a holiday celebrated around the world, and this event illustrates that Loyola wants to celebrate and learn about this massive celebration and its cultural roots.”
During lunch, the Southeast Asian Student Association created a Rangoli on the path from Pinney Hall to Malloy Commons and served traditional food from the various countries that celebrate Diwali. The Rangoli celebrates the happiness, positivity and liveliness of a household and serves as a welcoming for Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess ofwealth and good fortune.
Annarelli stated, “It’s a really gratifying way for us to be in community together rather than to be divided or focused on our differences. I get this idea from it that we can be this positive force for the celebration of diversity and togetherness, as opposed to that which is politicized and divisive in popular media.”
Sophomore Gus Singh added, “The environment is simply amazing. It reminds me of a heritage-based celebration you would see in places all over the world. It’s so amazing to see all different cultures and ethnicities gathered around together to celebrate one holiday.”