It was a celebration of religion, tradition and culture as the Guyanese Student’s Association hosted its fourth annual Diwali celebration in Council Hall on Nov. 8.
Diwali is a holiday that celebrates the Hindu new year, and is known as the “festival of lights.” Hindus light “diyas” (little candles) all around their homes to celebrate. The Guyanese Students Association brought Diwali to those in attendance by lighting “diyas” on each table.
“One of our main goals is to familiarize St. John’s with our culture and tradition,” Shivie Sukhdeo, president of the Guyanese Student’s Association, said. “We are continuing the tradition of the Diwali celebration.”
The St. John’s community, as well as family members and friends, came to join the celebration.
“It was nice to see everybody here that came to support us,” Derekh Singh, a sophomore member of the Guyanese Students Association, said.
The night began with a traditional Hindu prayer, recited by Ganeshwar Singh. The night continued with a fashion show, dance performances and a traditional dinner.
During the fashion show members modeled traditional clothing for the audience. The clothing for the fashion show was contributed by Raja Fashion Boutique and by the members themselves, who brought their own clothes.
The dance performances were done to Indian music and immensely enjoyed by those in attendance.
“The music is absolutely outstanding. The culture is beautiful and I love the dresses,” freshman Lidia Kacik, said. “They are so extravagant and very stylish.”
“It was wonderful,” Tim McClaint, Campus Activities adviser and liaison to the Guyanese Students Association, said. “I am extremely proud and very impressed with the organization.”
The association had been working on the event since the early summer.
“We put a lot of effort and time into the event,” Nevin Pahlad, a participant in the fashion show and member of the Guyanese Students Association, said. “We came out today to celebrate a happy and joyous occasion.”
“Practices for the show began about a week before the actual event but we have been getting people together for the entire semester,” Sukhdeo said.
People of all different cultures came to the show and many of the attendees were exposed to the culture and holiday for the first time. “This is my first experience,” senior Nicholas Rao, said. “They all worked really hard and it was a great success. I can’t wait until next year.”
“This was my first time introduced to Guyanese culture and I really enjoyed it,” Kathy Cornejo, a freshman education major, said.
At the end, the dance floor was opened up for others to join in the celebration. Guests enjoyed themselves as they continued the festivities and danced to Indian music.
“The Guyanese Students Association worked really hard and put together something they haven’t done before,” Rehanna Jagnandan, a junior participant in the show, said.
Admission was $5 for St. John’s students and $7 for non St. John’s students. The organization was able to raise around $400 for the night. The majority of the money will be going to the charities, Kids First Fund and the Heifer Foundation, a non-profit organization. The remainder will be allotted for the association’s budget.