With fireworks lighting up the sky and the smell of familiar Indian spices permeating the air, a group of 30 students gathered at Bharatiya Hindu Temple Saturday night to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Diwali is one of the most prominent traditional festivals in India, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists around the world, said Amit Chimanpure, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering and treasurer of Hindu Youth For Unity, Virtues and Action, the student organization hosting the event.
He said the organization’s goals are to promote Hindu values, showcase the beauty of Indian culture and support the community through celebrations of festivals.
“Hinduism is the third largest belief system in the whole world, so Hindu YOVA tries to represent that belief system on OSU campus,” Chimanpure said. “The different thoughts of Hinduism are manifested in celebration of festivals and following rituals. Diwali is one of those festivals.”
Chimanpure said originally people lit lamps, candles and fireworks to commemorate the return of ancient kings, but that version of Diwali eventually came to symbolize the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair and good over evil.
For Mitali Joshi, a first-year in computer science and engineering and an international student from Mumbai, India, Diwali was a joyful time in her household.
“We made lots of snacks at home, sweets and spicy things,” Joshi said. “We just cook together, me, my mom, my little brother, my aunts and uncles, anyone who wants to come. All of us come together and in the evening we have firecrackers.”
Joshi said the celebration of Diwali at Ohio State made her feel closer to her family and home in India.
“It means the world to me,” Joshi said. “I was so homesick right now and this is my favorite festival ever. To miss it would break my heart.”
“Even though it’s not with my family, just celebrating the festival, eating the kind of things [I would] at home and doing the kind of things I would do at home mean a lot,” Joshi added.
Joshi said events like this helped create a community for Indian students at Ohio State and help them adjust to cultural differences.
“Most people on my floor are American so it is difficult to find people you can relate to because of how different the culture is and just how different people are between here and home,” Joshi said. “It’s just great to have organizations like this that just make it a little easier for students to adjust to the life here.”
Praneethkumar Madhu, the communication and outreach leader of Hindu YUVA and a first-year in neuroscience, said the organization hoped to raise awareness of cultural diversity on campus.
“Diversity is a big part of OSU and you can see it everyday on campus, so it’s important to express the uniqueness in different cultures to allow this diversity to happen,” Madhu said. “It allows the unity of Indian students at OSU.”