Last month, hundreds across HBS gathered in groups large and small to celebrate Diwali-the Festival of Lights.

Also known as Deepavali, the celebration is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists to commemorate the victory of good over evil and to mark the end of the Hindu lunar year for many. One popular belief recounts Lord Ram’s triumphant homecoming after vanquishing the demon-king Ravan 5,000 years ago. Jubilant townspeople lit small clay lamps, deep, along the way to dispel the darkness. Across the world, a billion Hindus celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps (also a tribute to the Goddess of Knowledge) as well as buying gold and wearing new clothes (a tribute to the Goddess of Wealth). Many varieties of sweets are made and eaten with family and friends, and throughout India firecrackers burst into the AM as card-players gather for all-night games. This year, Diwali gained additional prominence after President Obama lit the traditional deep lamp in a White House ceremony for the first time.

For the more than 150 Hindu students at HBS, Diwali (October 17) was marked by prayers at home, temple visits, dinner parties and family gatherings. Varun Gupta (NB) organized an outing with 14 others because “for many of us, it was the first Diwali away from home. The temple visit and the party that followed was an attempt to recreate as much of a family environ as possible.”

SABA (South Asian Business Association) hosted a mid-week Diwali dinner followed by drinks at Om lounge. Ram Lokan (NH), a student from France, hosted dinner at his Cambridge home for friends, many of whom were celebrating the occasion for the first time. “I had never been invited to a traditional celebration before-the food, all home-cooked, was so delicious!” remarked Katina Pappas (NJ).

For a more authentic angle, Jay Tuli (NG) invited classmates for Diwali dinner with his family in Belmont-replete with exchanges of sweets and chocolates, oil-lamps, colorful Indian outfits, and even a professional card-dealer. In case you missed it, the ethnic fun isn’t over-SABA’s annual Ekta show in Burden Hall (Nov. 13) is a thousand-strong party filled with kaleidoscopic outfits, gyrating dance beats and scrumptious samosas. Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

Ami Malaviya has been publishing since age 12 when she wrote about the plight of overburdened and under-partied students in her native India. She has since written for her high school paper in Singapore and at her alma mater UVA. When Ami’s not buried under cases, she explores Boston nightlife with her (dance) partner Khelan.

November 2, 2009
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