Fireworks at Diwali celebration

Diwali celebrations shine bright on campus

The Hindu Festival of Light is being celebrated by Indians all over the world and by students at the University of Exeter on Sunday 3 November. Diwali or Deepavali is the most important festival of the year for Hindus and is regarded as the start of a new year.

The University of Exeter’s student Asian Society will be hosting a festival which will encompass the excitement of Diwali on the Streatham campus. Activities start at 2.30pm in the Great Hall with a Dhol drumming performance, dancing, henna tattoos and opportunities to dress in Bollywood outfits for photographs.There will also be Indian food delicacies for sale, available from each of India's regions, including the opportunity to try dishes from Dana Pani, Exeter Hindu Temple's own Indian restaurant. The festivities will end with a procession to the fireworks at 6.15pm, which can be viewed from the back of the XFI building.

Final year BA Business Management student, Atit Shah, is the President of the Asian Society and Chair of the International Students Council. He loves being involved in Diwali celebrations. Shah said:"As a kid Diwali was my favourite festival. Mom made delicious food, dad bought me new clothes and a few fire crackers which I would share with my cousins. When I grew up I realised this festival was not just about gifts and lights, it was more about celebrating an auspicious day with your loved ones. It was the only time when I would be with my entire family and that's what made the new clothes, fire crackers and gifts more special. Happy Diwali! "

The festivities are free and open to everyone from the University and the city of Exeter, as a way of providing a cultural experience and an opportunity to connect with the culture and heritage of India. It is also an opportunity to explain the role of the Diwali in which prayers and special offerings are made to Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Ganesh, the god of auspicious beginnings.

Ravi Nathwani, the Hindu Chaplian for the University of Exeter said:During Diwali Puja, we worship Mother Saraswati, Goddess of Knowledge, Art and Music. As a place of learning, with thousands of overseas students, the University is the right place to celebrate Diwali; as it is also time to get together and enjoy and build inter cultural awareness and relationships. It is time to enlighten ourselves to Unite for Universal  Brotherhood as  there is saying in Sanskrit “Vasudevm Kutumb Kum” World is One Family.”

The events on campus are family orientated providing the opportunity to explore the regions, culture and food of India. Festivities continue into Monday, where the Hindu Chaplin, will conduct Annakot Darshan New Year’s worship in the Forum for midday ceremony. All are welcome in the offering of a mountain of food to celebrate New Year. Gowardhan Puja.

Neil Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for international affairs, said: “We are really pleased and excited to be sharing Diwali with the students and the local community. It’s a pleasure to have such a festival on campus.”

Date: 29 October 2013

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