BYU celebrates Diwali

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Students watch a video presentation at the Diwali celebration on Nov. 13. Students were able to learn about the significance of Diwali and participate in traditional celebrations of the holiday at the event. (Angie Hernandez)

BYU students were able to experience South Asian culture through the Office of Belonging and South Asian Student Association’s Diwali festival on Nov. 13

Diwali is one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. Also referred to as the “Festival of Lights,” the purpose of the celebration is to symbolize the victory of light over darkness.

A student serves a Diwali participant food. The event included a traditional Indian meal. (Angie Hernandez)

“The South Asian Student Association presidency’s role was initiating the planning of the event and then working with the office of belonging and other departments on campus to organize everything and make it come together,” Emma Steimle, President of the South Asian Student Association and senior in the neuroscience program, said. 

Steimle said the event enriches the BYU experience by contributing to diversity on campus and creating a space for people with diverse backgrounds to learn about other cultures and traditions.

Diwali gave BYU students an opportunity to learn more about South Asian culture through food, dance and performances.

“I was able to learn how diverse or different cultures are everywhere, especially in India. The dances, the food and how they represent themselves,” Graydon Martinez, a sophomore majoring in manufacturing engineering, said. 

All BYU students were invited to participate in Diwali and learn more about South Asian culture.

Students participate in the Diwali celebration by performing a traditional dance. Diwali is known as the “Festival of Lights.” (Angie Hernandez)

“The outcome we expected was for people to come and learn more and engage with South Asian culture by enjoying performances and food and celebrating Diwali together. We were excited that more people came than we had expected,” Steimle said. 

The turnout for student participation was high, with lines out the door of the Wilkinson Center Garden Court. Participating students were able to immerse themselves in a new culture, fulfilling the BYU motto “The world is our campus.” 

“BYU believes that the world is its campus, and I think having events like this helps make the campus more global and inclusive and introduces people to beautiful aspects of cultures they might not be familiar with,” Steimle said. 

By hosting the Diwali festival, South Asian students had the opportunity to help other students understand and know a part of their culture. 

“Having an event that celebrates different religions of a marginalized community at a university like BYU really just felt like a big hug. A sense of belonging radiated not just from the event itself but the amount of diversity that was present,” Alysha Vierra, a junior majoring in elementary education, said. 

BYU Folk Dance group prepares to perform. Diwali is celebrated every fall between October and November. (Angie Hernandez)
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