November 21, 2008
The Rollins community gathered to celebrate Desi organization's 2nd annual Diwali Dinner event. More than 100 excited guests celebrated the Indian Festival of Lights three weeks after the internationally scheduled holiday, but with the same enthusiasm, appreciation and honor as the actual day. “It was amazing to see faculty, staff and students from all areas of the college – including the College of Arts & Sciences, the Holt School and the Crummer School – come together to celebrate and learn about this significant religious celebration,” said Amit Karr, graduate assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
“Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights in South Asia," explains Rollins student and Desi President Alicia Bhambhani. "However the holiday has several meanings including: the triumph of good over evil, the celebration of the return of Lord Rama from a 14-year exile in the forest, a holiday honoring the Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth (Diwali falls around harvest time), or the New Year.”
The event was student organized and piloted by Bhambhani and the Desi Advisor Jayashree Shivamoggi. Guests such as Director of Multicultural Affairs Mahjabeen Rafiuddin and Vice President & Treasurer Jeffery Eisenbarth participated in the celebration.
Attendees were able to appreciate the history and development of Bollywood by viewing a Hindi music video from the mid-20th century and a comparison of the later in a contemporary version. Guests were entertained by energetic and cultural dances and songs. The festive evening ended with excitement as bright Diwali sparklers were lit outside on the porch of Galloway Room.
The event was a typical Diwali celebration. “It means a lot for [Indian students] to be able to share our culture with our friends here at Rollins," Bhambhani said. "It is amazing how interested and willing to learn they are. For us having something on campus means that we are able to still have a part of our culture with us even if we are in this different environment. I think that as Desi students at Rollins, it was and is extremely important for us to teach others about our culture and show them how proud of it we are.”
“The event highlights the vibrant multicultural community of the campus," Karr said. "Desi’s Dwali was incredibly successful and illustrates the positive work of multicultural organization when opening their hearts to all areas of the Rollins community."
Desi is an organization that celebrates the South Asian cultures (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh etc.). The organization holds the annual Diwali Dinner and also puts on smaller events throughout the year including Bollywood Movie Nights (Bollywood being one of the largest film producers in the world). Desi's mission is to educate the Rollins campus about these cultures and show off their beauty and provide support for people who are from these cultures.
By Ana Maia (Class of 2008)