The College’s South Asian Society hosted its annual Diwali celebration on Oct. 29, a few days after the holiday’s official date of Oct. 24
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is an important religious holiday that occurs during the Hindu months of Ashvin and Kartika, which align with October and November. Priests often lead puja, religious ceremonies during which worshipers pray to idols of Hindu gods, such as Lakshmi and Ganesha, who are widely associated with the holiday. They also sing and leave fruits and sweets as offerings.
Mahika Gupta `23, a member and former president of the South Asian Society, spoke with The Colby Echo about the College’s Diwali celebration.
Gupta explained that setting up the event took most of Saturday afternoon. After running to Walmart for some cups, plates, and utensils, she and the club’s new executive board set up food-warming stands and tables, which they decorated with rose petals and battery-powered candles. They hosted their observance in the Parker-Reed Room of the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center.
“We held a short puja that was performed by a couple of the members of the South Asian Society. That was followed by a reception to which we invited the Colby community to come by and eat Indian food that we had catered from Mughal Palace,” she said.
At home, Gupta and her family celebrate Diwali by setting off fireworks and spending time with loved ones. Until recently, the South Asian Society hosted a fireworks display of its own, though budget constraints have prevented it in the past few years.
At the start of the academic year, Gupta and other club leaders handed down their positions to members of the Class of 2025. Under Nithun Selva `25, the club’s president, the South Asian Society has experienced an influx in members, which Gupta attributes to an increased number of international students in the first-year and sophomore classes.
“The new executive board did a good job of stepping up and planning the event,” Gupta said.
Although Diwali is a religious celebration, at the College, it functions primarily as a cultural celebration.
“We have a lot of people who are Hindu and observe the religion, but we don’t have a lot of people who are super religious,” Gupta said.
“We decided to go with a very informal ceremony that was directed by two students instead of a priest. It was a much shorter ceremony, and that worked for us.”
In the spring, the South Asian Society will celebrate Holi, the Festival of Colors. It also hosts “Chai and Chills” every other week in the Mary Low Coffee House.
~ Matt Rocha `23