Students gather to celebrate Diwali

University of La Verne Librarian Vinaya Tripuraneni lights diyas, traditional oil lamps, on a rangoli, a decoration drawn on the floor to bring good luck, Monday at the Ludwick Center Sacred Space. The rangoli was decorated by students at the annual celebration of Diwali, a festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains worldwide. It is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. / photo by Kim Toth
University of La Verne Librarian Vinaya Tripuraneni lights diyas, traditional oil lamps, on a rangoli, a decoration drawn on the floor to bring good luck, Monday at the Ludwick Center Sacred Space. The rangoli was decorated by students at the annual celebration of Diwali, a festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains worldwide. It is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. / photo by Kim Toth

Neidenne Arevalo
Staff Writer  

Around 20 people gathered at the Ludwick Center Sacred Space on Monday to learn about and participate in a Diwali Celebration. 

Diwali is a Hindu religious festival known as the festival of lights. The festival, which traditionally lasts five days between mid-October and mid-November, is one of the most important festivals within Hinduism.

Chairs were set up inside the Ludwick Center Sacred Space for a presentation, and outside three different activities were laid out with food and drinks.

Participants who gathered took part in several activities including setting up string lights, preparing oil lamps, and creating a rangoli.  

A rangoli is a colorful pattern decoration that can be made out of grain, lentils, flowers, different pigments, and other materials on the floor or table tops as a sign of welcoming to God and good luck. 

The event began with Vinaya Tripuraneni, dean of libraries and learning commons, giving a brief presentation on what exactly Diwali is. 

“Being able to share Diwali brings back a lot of memories,” Tripuraneni said. “Celebrating the festival… brings me immense joy.”

Tripuraneni’s presentation explained how Diwali is celebrated in different regions of India, with different traditions throughout the celebration. 

“The more you know, and the more you learn, the closer we all become as a community,” Tripuraneni said. 

Using the Ludwick Center Sacred Space is a way for students familiar, or not, with any given celebration, culture or religion to get information and come together in unity. 

Zandra Wagoner, university chaplain and assistant professor of philosophy and religion, helped coordinate the event. 

“It’s important to me that students, faculty and staff know that we are an interfaith campus that anyone with any worldview they have is welcomed here,” Wagoner said. “Events like this are not only an opportunity for someone within the tradition to celebrate or honor that tradition, but it is also educational and experiential for people who maybe did not grow up with that tradition but can learn something about it and build some empathy across these differences.”

An event like the one held for Diwali is made by collaborating with those who want to celebrate a holy day and figuring out how they would like to celebrate it. 

Wagoner collaborates with those who want to celebrate and all the offices that help bring the event together.

Communicating with the campus community is very important in spreading the word about the event. 

“It’s a way to contribute to La Verne’s sense of inclusion, belonging and sharing the different ways in which we make meaning in this life,” Wagoner said. 

Tejas Nair, freshman business administration major, heard about the event through the email sent out by Student Information. 

“I have a personal connection with the event held today because I am Hindu, and I celebrate this at home,” Nair said. “This is one of my favorite festivals to participate in out of a couple other festivals we celebrate.” 

Tripuraneni’s presentation described Diwali as a festival of lights that celebrates light over darkness, good over evil and the human ability to overcome

“It’s amazing to see our University pay focus to appreciate different cultures and religions and get people involved,” Nair said. “My previous college did not offer experiences and events like this so for that I’m extremely grateful University of La Verne does.”

Neidenne Arevalo can be reached at neidenne.arevalo@laverne.edu

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