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The Festival of Lights Comes to Ithaca College

Rangoli, expression of art.
Rangoli, expression of art.

Diwali is the five-day festival of lights celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains across the world. The International Club organized a Diwali celebration Oct. 25 for all to experience the traditional festival of new beginnings, the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness.

At the Diwali celebration there was a large dance floor for everyone and also henna and rangoli stations for people to spend more intimate time together.

Anushka Rajbhndari, graphic designer for the International Club, was in charge of the henna station.

According to Rajbhndari, henna is made up of “the dried leaves of the plant Lawsonia Inermis, mostly used for body art, which is several centuries old. The people of Africa, Middle East, and South Asian Communities used this form of temporary tattoo for religious ceremonies, wedding festivals, and simple body adornment.”

Rangoli, an expression of art.

At the Rangoli station, there was dried powder for people to decorate the designs on a large white banner. The word rangoli means “the expression of art through the joyful design of color,” Rajbhndari says. Rangoli is an Indian traditional folk art usually created on the floor during festive Rangoli, expression of art occasions. It is traditionally done at the entrance of households and temples. At the end of the Diwali celebration, everyone danced together to traditional Indian music until it was time to go home.

Since Diwali is celebrated across the world in Indian subcontinents, it’s difficult for international students at the college to travehome for this celebration.

Stuti Singh, Class of 2021

This is the first time Stuti Singh, a first-year student, has celebrated Diwali away from home.

“Culturally I would not say [the transition] was a lot. I have most of my relatives here and they used to keep me updated about what goes on [in America]. However, experiencing [America] is never equal to what others have told me. I would say that I am not shocked, it’s different and I like the different environment here.”

Singh came to Ithaca College because of the large influence of the International Club on campus and she has been involved since August of this year.

“When you learn about somebody else’s [culture] and you get to share your culture  you feel like you belong in a certain environment. Learning about each other, getting more knowledge, sharing your experience, sharing your tokens, sharing your attire, sharing your culture and festivals, it is simply amazing.”

Life at Ithaca College as a Fourth-Year Student

Veer Badani, Class of 2018

Veer Badani a fourth-year student, is president of the International Club on campus. Badani, has been celebrating Diwali at Ithaca for the past four years. 

“Unfortunately the festivals and birthdays that I miss include: Diwali, my dad’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, and recently I had niece and nephew twins born and missed all of that. But when you’re studying at Ithaca College abroad as an international student, these are the things that you have to kind of deal with.”                                                   

Although Badani misses a lot of family events he is able to travel home twice a year: during winter and summer breaks. But for the rest of the calendar year, he remains on campus. 

Thanks to the International Club’s celebration of Diwali, international students who celebrate Diwali back home do not get to miss out on an important tradition.

“Diwali, personally for me means family. So always back home whenever there’s a Diwali holiday it always means family dinners, family get-togethers, family lunches. It’s all about being around family, being with family, celebrating each other as a family.”

No matter where a person is from, the whole point of the celebration is to celebrate everyone says Badani. “You get to partake in our festivals and experience it the way we do back home.”

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