The following piece, written by Anupam Singh (Class of 2016) and photographed by Greg Lin (Class of 2016), showcases the Diwali celebration at Darden which took place on November 18.  The Diwali celebration at Darden was organized by Shweta Balasubramanian, Greg Lin, Praneeta Vir, Saurabh Rajwade, and Anupam Singh, all members of Darden’s Class of 2016.

By Anupam Singh

image2As one of the Vice Presidents of Events at Darden South Asian Society (DSAS), my colleagues and I shared the responsibility for hosting the Diwali Cold Call. Judging from last year’s event, we reckoned that about 250-300 people would attend the event, and that it would be a big affair at Darden. I was a little intimidated by that, since I had not organized anything on this scale before.

However, before I get into what happened at the event itself, I will take a moment to explain the cultural significance of Diwali to Indians and to many other communities and countries in South Asia. Diwali is the festival of lights – it signifies the triumph of good over evil and celebrates the day, when Lord Ram, an incarnation of the supreme – Lord Vishnu returned to the seat of his capital, Ayodhya, after spending 14 years in exile. In those years, he waged war against the demon king of Sri Lanka, Ravana, and thus ended his murderous reign. Diwali is the perhaps the only festival, which is celebrated across the whole of India with equal gusto. I remember my childhood years, that just the anticipation of Diwali would cause enormous excitement at school and home, and that the sight of the earthen lamps dotting the entire city would be a sight to behold.

Back to Darden – there was lots to do – we ordered food, decorations and ran around trying to get everything ready on time. The event was to start at 5 pm, but all of the DSAS leadership was there by 4 to get us up and running. I spoke for a minute explaining the importance of the event to the Darden community and then we opened up the food section – we had a wide assortment of delicious food – lamb, chicken, daal makhni, shahi paneer all cooked in Indian style, basmati rice, naan, gulab jamun, samosas. The folks present loved it. Then as we started the music on the loudspeakers, some of the first year students broke into a flash mob dance, and soon others joined in. A lot of people walked up to us and admired the lighting, décor, the food and especially the Diwali Rangoli. People continued to pour in, as classes ended at 6. We continued the event till 7 and then started to wrap things up. As we still had a portion of the food left, we decided to give it back to the restaurant in the spirit of Diwali, and they would distribute it to the homeless.

Diwali at Darden was a wonderful affair and everybody present enjoyed it – it brought people of various communities and countries together and imbibed the spirit of Darden. I am confident that Diwali in the coming years will be an even bigger event and will draw even bigger crowds. To end it, I would like to say that Diwali was and is not just an occasion for celebration for us but also a time for self-reflection to conquer our inner demons, doubts, fears and disbeliefs and embrace courage, humanity and the universal spirit of love.