Sammi Mulhern / Mustang News

Flowing saris and colorful kurtas filled Chumash Auditorium Thursday night as smells of curry, naan and chicken tikka masala wafted through the air at the Diwali Festival of Lights.

The Indian Student Association (ISA) celebrates Diwali yearly, inviting people of all backgrounds to join in on the fun.

“Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope above despair through the display of candles, feasts and the gathering of family and friends,” mechanical engineering junior and Diwali MC Neel Kogali said.

Sammi Mulhern / Mustang News

ome more popular over the years, with more than 200 guests attending this year’s night of dancing, eating and celebrating.

Indians of all faiths, including Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs enjoy Diwali.

“[Hindus] light small candles or diyas to welcome the god to their house in times of darkness,” kinesiology senior Chaya Rajeev said. “Gods are really important in Hinduism, which is the main religion in India, so that’s why Indians take pride in celebrating this festival.”

In India, Diwali is often accompanied by big firework shows. The San Luis Obispo observance of Diwali featured a more muted version of these displays.

“Here we stick to sparklers, but in India it is a huge celebration with tons of fireworks and lights everywhere,” business administration senior Neelima Mandava said.

The night was also celebrated with traditional Indian songs and dances.

Performers included acoustic duo Bombay Beats, folk dance group Cal Poly Bhangra and competitive Bollywood fashion dance team Cal Poly Kahanee.

Cal Poly Lahar performed a Bollywood dance routine with flowing red skirts and beads that jingled to the beats. Cal Poly Lahar is a dance club open to all interested in Bollywood dance.

Sammi Mulhern/Mustang News
Sammi Mulhern/Mustang News

“It’s a celebration theme, everyone having fun and everyone coming together,” said Rajeev, a Lahar dancer. “I think it’s what we are doing here with Diwali.”

Computer science freshman Sujit Madiraju found the bonding and culture sharing at this year’s Diwali to be especially important, given the current political climate.

“I hope that this festival can give people some hope that there is always a possibility of change, always room for improvement and for things to get better,” Madiraju said. “I hope that it unites people in the sense that everyone, whether they follow this culture or not, can share these common values
and beliefs.”

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