Ohio State students had the opportunity Thursday to participate in Hindu traditions, connect to their faith and welcome a new year through a festival celebration on campus.
BAPS — Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha — a sect of Hinduism with a student fellowship on campus, hosted its first Diwali celebration at the university. BAPS is focused on fostering Hindu values and tradition, expanding faith and inspiring unity and selfless service.
Ayushi Patel, a fourth-year in biology and member of BAPS, said Diwali welcomes a new year and provides an opportunity to start fresh.
“Diwali is actually day three of a five-day festival, and it’s kind of the celebration of good over evil, and what it does is it helps bring in the new year. So the new year is actually the fourth day of a five-day festival,” Ayushi Patel said.
Ayushi Patel said Diwali is an Indian festival full of traditional feasts and lights that people celebrate at home with family and friends.
“Typically, at home, the whole family kind of gets together. It’s a nice, giant feast with everyone. It’s just a time where you get to really celebrate the relationships that you have, the people that you have around you,” Ayushi Patel said.
Ashni Patel, a first-year in biology, said people will light lanterns and set off fireworks, followed by a feast on the fifth day of the festival.
Three Hindu religious teachers, called swami, from BAPS preached during the celebration. Offerings of food, called Annakut, were given to pictures of deities and an image of H. H. Mahant Swami Maharaj, a spiritual leader of BAPS. Traditional Indian food — all vegetarian — was served to those who attended. Posters were also displayed on the wall with information about Diwali.
“We have people preparing different type of sweets we’ll offer to God, and then here, as well, we will probably have a small presentation and exhibition type of thing, where we kind of explain to everyone what the meaning of Diwali is and how it’s celebrated globally,” Ayushi Patel said.
Ashni Patel said celebrating Diwali at Ohio State brings out-of-state students together who are unable to go home for Diwali.
“It’s so cool being able to bring it to college kids because I think sometimes people, when they move from a different state or out of town, they usually can’t go to their home temple, so it’s so cool that we are able to bring it here,” Ashni Patel said.
She added that the celebration offered students a platform for sharing their religion through tradition.
“I’m just excited that we are able to do this because it allows people to come together and then we can share our religion and how we celebrate Diwali in our own ways,” Ashni Patel said.