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Festival of Lights: MVHS students celebrate Diwali on campus

As Bollywood music played in the background, students crowded around the classroom tables. Some were doing mehndi on each other’s hands. Others were painting diyas, and decorating them in bright colors. An air of community was pervading the room.

To celebrate Diwali, the South Asian Student Union held a special meeting with activities such as mehndi and diya painting, and hosted a table at the monthly Spartans Pause event to share their culture with other students.

This year, Diwali started on Nov. 10 and was celebrated until Nov. 14. 

According to the SASU board, Diwali is celebrated by multiple religions, including Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism; as well as Buddhism to a lesser degree. All of these religions utilize diyas, which are candles, to decorate and illuminate a home, hence giving Diwali another name – the festival of lights.

“Because Diwali is about the triumph of light over darkness, you turn off all the lights in your house and you leave candles around everywhere,” junior Rohan Melwani, secretary of the SASU, said.

Those who observe Diwali dress up and see their extended families, senior Vanya Sethi, president of the SASU, said.

“It’s a big celebration where I get together with friends and family and host Diwali parties and do dances,” Sethi said. “It’s kind of like our New Years.” 

Another Diwali tradition is puja

“[Puja is] a series of things that you do to honor the gods,” Melwani said. “You have statues and images and you clean them with milk, and then you put a tikka –a red powder that you put on the head – to bless [the statues].”

South Asian students who celebrate Diwali at MVHS enjoy it because it’s a way for them to connect with their culture and community, Melwani said. 

“It is one of the times where I can really do something to be connected with my religion,” Melwani said.

On Friday, Nov. 17, SASU had a station at Spartans Pause, a monthly event held by the Ambassadors class to promote mental wellbeing. 

“[Ambassadors] actually reached out to us, because this year one of their goals is to incorporate more religious or cultural activities in Pauses,” Sethi said.

The activity SASU planned was diya decorating.

Alexander Xu

“I thought it was really interesting to learn about Indian culture because I have a lot of Indian friends but they don’t tell me a lot about their celebrations,” sophomore Sophia Zhang, who participated in the activity, said.

Zhang said that the cultural Spartans Pause activities were a fun way to show people the diverse backgrounds of MVHS students, and that it would be good for there to be more of them.

“I think [Pause was] a great way to educate people about our culture and bring awareness in a fun way,” Melwani said.

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About the Contributor
Alexander Xu, Staff Writer
Alex is an junior and serves as a staff writer for the Oracle. Outside of school, he enjoys art, especially digital art.
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