This year’s Diwali Celebration at DMU featured live performances, games and history, trivia and prizes to educate attendees on this festival of lights. An important holiday to Hindu peoples, the event signifies the victory of good over evil, inner light over spiritual darkness and knowledge over ignorance. At the University, it also let more than 250 students and faculty have fun while gaining cultural insights.
“Apart from the main reason of celebrating the win of good over evil, Diwali is one of the many festivals in India that celebrates family and community,” says Yochana Kancherla, a second-year student in the doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) program who, with classmate Anushka Khanna, organized the event. “I felt like this was a great opportunity for me to get involved with the cultural side of DMU’s community to help create a welcoming celebration for everyone. I hope the attendees were able to get an idea of how celebrations are done in various cultures and are encouraged to seek out more experiences like this.”
Anushka expressed gratitude to Richard Salas, Ph.D., DMU’s chief diversity officer, and Helena Mica, M.A., M.S., multicultural affairs coordinator, for their help and support in planning the event.
“It meant a lot to me to be able to bring a big part of my culture and upbringing to the DMU community. With the food, dance performances, henna station and more, it truly felt like we were able to bring the community together just like I celebrated back home with my family,” she says. “I hope DMU students were able to learn more about Indian culture as well as take a night off to enjoy each other’s company outside of the classroom, which can be rare in graduate school. It was amazing to see so many students, faculty and families in one place willing to immerse themselves in new activities despite all their busy schedules. I would say Diwali this year was a great success, and I cannot wait for the future years and more community involvement as people become more aware of Diwali.”
Anushka added that her favorite parts of the event were performances by Muscle Energy, DMU’s “house band,” and the local Gateway Dance Theatre Group. Aminatta Tejan-Kamara, a second-year osteopathic medical student and singer with Muscle Energy, says she enjoyed learning about the significance of Diwali as well as the opportunity to perform.
“It is always awesome to gain perspective on how other cultures celebrate,” Aminatta says. “We had a nice medley of [musical] genres that could speak to various members of our audience. Music has and will always be my refuge. To know me is to know that I am a free spirit that is grounded in routine. Muscle Energy allows me the opportunity to break away from routine – if not only for a moment! – and tap into the musical part of me. I enjoy working with all the members, and I love the music we make together.”