In America, people celebrate all kinds of holidays. Some are more popular than others, but there are many nonetheless.
In India, there are many holidays, but few as popular and nationwide as Diwali. This Saturday, the Indian Students Association is holding a Diwali Banquet to celebrate the important holiday.
“Diwali is a combination of Christmas and the Fourth of July,” said Stephen Lloyd-Moffett, assistant professor of religious studies. “There are almost always fireworks so it adds to the Fourth of July feel.”
Diwali was actually on Oct. 21 this year, however ISA postponed the festivities due to the large amount of people going home to their families for the celebration, said Servesh Deswal, ISA president and construction management senior.
“We really wanted to do it on a weekend that everyone was here,” he said. “So, we are really just celebrating the day.”
Not only Hindus celebrate Diwali, Deswal said. “The Sikh and Jain religions also celebrate the day.”
All over India, the celebration lasts up to five days and is known as the most important holiday, he said.
“Diwali actually means the ‘Festival of Lights,’” Lloyd-Moffett said. “It’s actually one of the only holidays that is celebrated all over India.”
Every region and religion has its own interpretation of the day, but there is one general story, he said.
Diwali is about the story of King Rama and his wife Sita. He had just rescued her from being kidnapped and transported her home. The whole city lights up so they can find their way home, Lloyd-Moffett said.
“To celebrate there are lights and fireworks to welcome home Rama and Sita,” he said.
Not only does Diwali celebrate this story, but a bigger picture, Deswal said. “People are celebrating life and strength in relationships,” he said.
“It is also the celebration of good’s triumph over evil,” Lloyd-Moffett said.
In Northern India, Diwali is also the start of the business year and business owners begin their books on this day, Deswal said.
“Generally, in the evening, people light up their houses and there is the giving of gifts, but not quite on the level of Christmas,” Lloyd-Moffett said. “The people bring out their best clothes, put henna on their hands and walk around the city looking at lights.”
Women wear Saris and men dress up in India, but in America it has just become an excuse to party, he said.
The club’s celebration of Diwali will occur at the Jewel of India at 2115 Broad St. this Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight.
ISA has rented a banquet room and the restaurant will cater the food. There will be a guest speaker and quite possibly some fireworks, Deswal said.
“People need to come so they can really learn about Diwali,” Deswal said. “I can explain but you really need to show people.”