When Sagar Rajpal, a former Northeastern graduate student, hosted the first Diwali celebration on the Boston University campus in 2017, he had no idea that hundreds of people would fill the Sacred Space and ballroom in Ell Hall.
Continued each year under the direction of Rajpal, the “festival of lights” last year attracted more than 2,000 attendees. This year, expect even more as the holiday celebration continues to grow in popularity.
The event from 3-8 p.m. on Monday, October 24 at the Curry Student Center in Boston includes darshan and diya decorations on the second floor, a photo from the first floor and food on the Robinson Quad. There will also be a rangoli competition from 3-5 p.m. on the mezzanine, with voting and judging from 5-8 p.m.
Diwali will also be celebrated at Northeastern’s campuses in Toronto, Vancouver, San Jose, Seattle and Oakland. The San Jose and Seattle celebrations were held on Friday, October 21.
At Mills College at Northeastern in Oakland, Diwali will be celebrated from 5 to 7 pm on Monday, October 24, in the Solidarity Lounge, next to the Student Union. The event includes spiritual practices, Indian food, dancing to Bollywood music, and card games.
At the Toronto campus, Diwali will be celebrated from 3:30 to 5:30 pm on Friday, October 28. The event includes dance performances, music and traditional and cultural performances of Indian culture and food.
Rajpal, who is currently the associate director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, says that when he first organized the celebration in Boston five years ago, “it was a dream project.” And now, he says, he’s excited to see thousands of people from diverse backgrounds join in the celebration.
“Having grown up in a multi-denominational and multi-cultural society in Mumbai, India, I saw people from all faiths and traditions come together to celebrate Diwali. Everyone carries a light within them, and it is very important to not only nurture, but also celebrate this light,” says Rajpal. “When I planned the first Desi Diwali at Northeastern University in 2017, the main intention was to create a space for everyone, regardless of identity or background, to come together, as a community, to celebrate the light within them and the light. of the world.”
Monday’s Diwali celebration on the Boston campus will feature thousands of lights, food, worship, music, competition and a photo booth. Unlike in previous years, tickets are not required to attend. Also, to accommodate more people, the event was extended to five hours.
“This is a fair, like a drop-in, drop-out type of event,” says Rajpal. “Also, he doesn’t have a ticket in any way. So it’s open to the community at large to participate in the celebration and essentially get a sneak peek, different aspects of the celebration.”
Because the event has become so popular, Rajpal said he is looking for a venue that can accommodate up to 5,000 for future celebrations.
Diwali is a five-day holiday known as the festival of lights and celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhist communities. Rajpal says that it is both a religious and a cultural festival, considered by many to be the biggest of the year.
According to tradition, diyas (clay lamps with ghee/oil and a wick) are lit inside and outside houses. Rajpal says that any light can be used today. The festival involves the worship of various gods and goddesses, including Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and the arts. Food is a big part of the holiday, as is rangoli, the colorful art form that originated in India.
“The festival of lights celebrates not only the lights outside, but also the light inside you,” says Rajpal. “The community is the most important part of Diwali; be with your friends and family to celebrate the light inside and outside of you.”
Alexander Levering Kern, director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, and Megan Compaine, associate director of Academic Services and International Student Support at the Office of Global Service, have been instrumental in organizing Diwali celebrations throughout the years, says Rajpal.
In addition to Monday’s event in Boston, Sakshi Chougule, a Northeastern graduate student and president of the NU Sanskriti organization, is helping to organize another Diwali celebration at Blackman Auditorium from 8 to 10:30 pm on Friday, October 28.
Chougule says Friday’s celebration will be an entertainment event, with dancing, music and a fashion show.
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