The beckoning aroma of traditional spice and festive music fill the lucid concourse atmosphere with a sense of happiness and warmth. Diwali, known as the ‘festival of lights’, is a five day festival which begins on Dhanteras. Organised by Chloe Green (VP Welfare and Communities) and the Hindu Society, the event proved to entice a wealth of excitement, culminating in students from wide cultural areas to get together and enjoy the proceedings.
The Hindu religion is both colourful and enthralling, with copious amounts of tradition and culture, it’s all too easy easy to be absorbed and welcomed into the community. As observed by students who flock in and out of the concourse throughout the day, sampling the wondrous benefits on offer, including:
- Indian food and tea
- Rangoli (rice and powder art)
- Indian drummers
- Diya decorating (tea lights) and a sunset lighting of the Diya
- Mehndi (henna hand art)
- Diwali storytelling
- Lakshmi-ganesh puja (traditional prayer)
Diwali usually entails filling small clay pots with oil and lighting them, signifying the dominance of good over evil, the main characteristic of the event. The lamps are then kept lit during the night with the person’s house being cleaned; allowing for the goddess Lakshmi to feel welcomed. The most well known and possibly most celebrated part of Diwali is the fireworks which are used as a way of warding off evil spirits.
Students at the University of Southampton have been spoilt recently with a plethora of culturally diverse events right on their academic doorstep. The demand for expansive coverage and scalability has been largely due to the influences of Chloe Green (VP Communities) and the support of her team and the International Societies to ensure everything has been done as well as it could be. This combination of organisational and cultural expertise has amalgamated in the production of these events which are really enjoyable to take part in. As Reetam Singh (Union Councillor) explains:
“We never expected this amount of people to turn up! We have tried to make the event as authentic and traditional as possible. I believe this has proved successful as we have a massive cultural exchange happening throughout the day – there have been several people asking various questions about traditions with the event and that’s something I feel we have managed to portray well.”
The Hindu society tried their hardest to arrange a firework display at the university but unfortunately were unable to navigate through the numerous health and safety restrictions, although have now planned for transport with the SUSU Safety Bus’ to take a limited number of people to and from the local temple on Radcliffe Road for the firework display, which is due to start at 7:30pm.
There will also be a black tie event on Sunday 25November with a reception and photographer from 7pm, followed by a three-course meal and entertainment, all at The Mayflower Suite. Profits from both events will go towards a charity helping and giving aid to the underprivileged in India. Hindu Society President, Shailesh Agarwal, explains that:
“We have been planning this event for months as this is our main festival, so to stop people feeling homesick as they can’t go home for Diwali, we wanted to incorporate various different traditions and aspects – so we have something for everyone. We expected this amount of people to come today so we are happy with the turnout. We have high expectations for our black tie ball and we’re looking forward to the food, entertainment and after party. In regards to the fireworks; we almost got permission for fireworks to be performed on campus, so hopefully we can plan more in advance next year and have the option to do it. As a society, we would like to thank SUSU for providing us with free transport to and from the temple for the firework display and I would like to personally thank Chloe Green for all her help – she came up with the idea and has really helped us to organise this event.”
So Happy Diwali from the Wessex Scene and make sure you get yourselves down to SUSU concourse today if you haven’t already and get involved! Don’t forget that there will also be a firework display at the:
Vedic Society Hindu Temple,
79-195 Radcliffe Road,