Strathclyde’s Diwali Celebrations

By Casey Roepke

The Strathclyde Indian Students’ Association held their annual Diwali Celebration on Friday, 29 October. Students joined society members for a night full of performances, socializing and a catered dinner.

The event was hosted at The Citation, an events hall in Glasgow. Attendees wore traditional attire in bright and beautiful colors as they watched the event’s opening. The evening began with two dance performances, an individual traditional dance and a group performance. After the performances, guests moved upstairs for a round of bingo, in which three students from the crowd won prizes. 

Diwali officially begins on 2 November and lasts for five days finishing on the 6th of November. It is a festival of lights traditionally celebrated by members of the Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist faiths in India and across the world. Taking place in the time between autumn and winter on the 15th day of Kartik, a month in the Hindu lunar calendar, Diwali represents the symbolic triumph of light over darkness. The spiritual history can be traced back to a traditional story of two Hindu deities, Rama and Sita, returning to the city of Ayodhya after an exile which lasted for fourteen years, guided by the light of Ayodhya’s villagers lighting oil lamps to illuminate their path. Observers of Diwali celebrate the festival of Diwali by gathering together, often with fireworks and communal meals. In the days leading up to the beginning of the festival, people often clean their homes akin to “spring cleaning” and decorate with diyas, clay oil lamps, in a call-back to the original story.

The organizing society of the event, the Strathclyde Indian Students Association, is the official Indian society at the University of Strathclyde. Their website lists their “basic agenda” as aiming “to develop an Indian community within the university.” The Strathclyde Indian Students Association was voted “Best Diversity Group” and “Community Society of the Year” for the 2017/2018 academic year at the University of Strathclyde’s Volunteer Awards.

A highlight of the Diwali Celebration was dinner, which was catered by Indian By Nature, an Indian restaurant in Paisley. Indian By Nature uses local ingredients to prepare “authentic, regional village style variety” according to its website. Event participants were served a buffet of various Indian dishes as they talked and laughed with the other members of their tables. 

After dinner, there was another performance, as a group played dhol drums and bagpipes in a medley of Indian and Scottish music. The event concluded with an after party, and guests were encouraged to purchase tickets for the next Strathclyde Indian Students’ Association event, the Bollywood Diwali Party which will be held on 4 November. Tickets are still available for that event, which will be a continuation of the festival of lights celebration.