Cal Poly’s Indian Student Association (ISA), will host the annual Diwali banquet at Chumash Auditorium Nov. 9 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Diwali is one of the most important celebrations in Indian culture and is a festival of lights where families, friends and entire communities come together and celebrate with Indian food, music and dancing.
The official Diwali holiday took place Oct. 19, but ISA feels it is important to bring this essential part of Indian culture to Cal Poly no matter what the date. According to current ISA president and business administration junior Anshul Shah, the club hopes to increase awareness of the Indian culture while also making sure that everyone has a good time.
Planning the the Diwali banquet began back in February, as club members got paperwork to Associated Students, Inc., reached out to other organizations on campus, and ensured that their freshman student body got involved as well.
“We try to do a lot of outreach via word-of-mouth, Facebook, and through the multicultural center,” Shah said.
ISA plans to host anywhere from five to nine performances this year. Performances include Bollywood singing and dances from two of Cal Poly’s Indian dance teams, Cal Poly Kahanee and Cal Poly Bhangra. The event will be catered by Taj Palace, giving guests the full Indian experience.
The club held rehearsals this week to prepare performers before the big event.
One of the performers is business administration junior Shefali Mathrani, who will sing Darhaast alongside computer engineering junior Ayusman Saha.
This will be the duo’s third Diwali performance together and it has become a tradition for them.
“We love to sing Bollywood to keep the tradition alive,” Mathrani said. “One thing I like to do when I choose a song is to choose one that has meaning and also one that’s kind of soulful.”
She says that a soulful song gives the audience a better opportunity to relate to it.
Another performer is architecture freshman Isha Sharma, who will be performing a fusion number, mixing Indian and American dancing with Cal Poly Bhangra.
“Bhangra is really energetic because there is a lot of jumping involved,” Sharma said. “Its going to be really interesting to watch.”
Traditionally, Diwali is known as “the festival of lights.” It is considered one of the biggest holidays celebrated by Hindus.
According to Shah, India celebrates this event by celebrating in the streets, eating authentic Indian food and enjoying the company of family and friends.
“Diwali is technically the New Year on the Indian calendar,” Shah said.
For mechanical engineering senior and current secretary of ISA Neel Kogali, Diwali means putting on one’s best Indian attire, getting together with family and eating good food.
Similarly, Shah said that back home, lights are spread all over the front yard, the house is presently clean, and there are a lot of tasty Indian snacks to enjoy.
For Mathrani, Diwali means a celebration of culture with family.
“We can all celebrate the Indian tradition of family, food, friends and lights,” Mathrani said.
Inviting people from different backgrounds
ISA stresses the importance of diversity and hopes that this event brings in people from different backgrounds and cultures so that they come together and celebrate as one.
“I really hope that we can get different cultures to come here and experience our culture with us and open their eyes to what we are and what our culture is like,” Mathrani said.
According to Kogali, the theme of this event is to bring a lot of people together, have a good time with friends and to meet new people.
The Diwali banquet at Cal Poly is a time where everyone can come celebrate together while being exposed to the Indian culture. Shah says that the Diwali Banquet is a staple for the Indian Student Association.
According to the event’s Facebook page, the doors will open at 7:15 pm and the dress code is Indian formal. Tickets can be purchased in advance from board members or at ISA meetings, according to the Diwali Event Page on Facebook. In addition, any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $25.