Festival Celebrates South Asian Culture

Friends Hall was alive with Indian culture on Thursday as the South Asians at Ramapo club hosted a Diwali celebration, complete with food, music, dancing and Diwali-themed activities.

Diwali is a five-day Hindu celebration that fell on Nov. 3 this year. Diwali is known as "the festival of lights" and is typically celebrated by lighting small clay lamps that represent the triumph of good over evil. Although this tradition was impossible at Ramapo, South Asians at Ramapo offered entertainment similar to that of authentic Hindu customs.

"We put on this event to raise awareness about Indian and South Asian culture," said junior Maria Palakudivil, president of South Asians at Ramapo. is the festival of lights celebrated by Hindus in India and other South Asian cultures. We wanted to unify our South Asian members."

For sophomore Alisha Malla, the Diwali event did, in fact, provide a great place for her to reconnect with her friends.

"I'm enjoying this event because I'm seeing all of my Nepali friends that I don't get to see all of the time," Malla said.

However, the Diwali celebration was not limited to students of South Asian descent. According to Palakudivil, the Indian food was a big incentive for students to come and experience a slice of South Asian traditions.

"We wanted students just to get a taste of South Asian culture," Palakudivil said. "People like Indian food, so it's a great place to be."

Besides the array of Indian dishes, different stations were set up around the room to provide entertainment for the celebration, as modern Indian music played with music videos projected onto a screen. To supplement the lighting of clay lamps, a table was set up where students could paint a glass candleholder. An electronic light was placed in a real candle's stead.

Another station included a place for students to get henna tattoos. Two students applied the traditional South Asian adornment in elaborate designs.

"The henna is really good because one of my friends is doing it, and he's amazing," Malla explained.

Set up at another station was Indian trivia that included questions like, "Name four religions practiced in India" and "What is a popular sport in Afghanistan?" Another aspect of the night was a Bollywood dancing lesson. An experienced student took the Friends Hall stage and led a crowd of students in a Bollywood dance.

The dancing, food and activities provided a lesson on South Asian culture and Diwali traditions for the students who attended.

"I had heard of Diwali before, but I didn't know exactly what is was or how people celebrated or anything like that," sophomore Michael Sass said. "This event made me more aware."