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Roanoke College Celebrates Diwali

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Staff Writer

Roanoke College celebrated the annual Hindu festival of Diwali on Mon. Nov. 1 and Tues. Nov. 2 with the help of RAAG and Hollins University. The festivities included a movie, dances and music, and a firework display.

Diwali is a Hindu festival celebrated for five days consecutively.  The third day of this holiday is the Festival of Lights, which falls on Friday, November 5th this year.  The days of Diwali are different each year on the calendar because of the changing moon.  During this time in India, they celebrate with fireworks, candles, traditional dancing, music, and gift giving.  Lights are the most important symbol of the holiday because they signify the driving away of evil spirits and the awakening of the light inside each individual.  Many religious rituals are also performed, especially to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. To welcome her, every family cleans their house, leave small footprints by the door, and line the paths with light.  This vibrant festival is very important to Hindus around the world and they wait for it with anticipation and open hearts.

On Monday, there was a brief introduction on Diwali, and then the Ramayana film, Sita Sings the Blues, was presented to the community. Tuesday was an exciting night filled with dancing, music, and fireworks to light up this wonderful festival. Six young girls, who take lessons from Usha Pulijal, performed four classical Indian dances which were described as the most ancient form of yoga dance in India.  The girls were vibrant in their costumes and wore many bells to add to the music and rhythm of this unique style of dance. 

A sitar concert by John Protopappas and Anil Shende added further intrigue to the evening’s performances. They played almost a full hour of Indian music which was extremely stimulating and new to many. Afterwards there was a firework display and sparklers for all in attendance. The display provided an entertaining addition and a wonderful way to end the night.

There were a large number of RC students in attendance; as well as many faculty, staff, and visitors. Overall, RC, with the support of RAAG and Hollins, did a wonderful job putting together this unique program to celebrate Diwali.