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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Diwali rings in new year

A festival of lights brought Hindu students together in song, dance and joy Saturday night.

About 350 students gathered in the Marvin Center for a Diwali celebration, the Indian Students’ Association 10th annual event for the festival. Diwali is a celebration of renewal of life and marks the beginning of the new year.

After dining on Indian dishes, students watched a two-hour presentation featuring 10 student acts. Participants sang and danced to traditional and modern music, and all but two groups were dressed in traditional Indian garb.

“We changed the variety of acts, added more music, used four emcees instead of one and added more graduate students,” said ISA President Srikant Polepalli.

One group, the “Bollywood Ballers,” gave American music a cultural twist when they danced to Indian re-mixes of Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson hits. Another group, dubbed “The Bombay Boys” and clad in denim jackets and black pants, danced and sang to Indian-influenced techno music.

The second act of the evening began with “Arth Arts,” a comedic skit in which two Indian sisters discussed their cultural traditions and talked about sex with one of their daughters before her wedding night. The skit was followed by eight sophomore females performing a traditional dance.

“Every year people come up with such creative things,” said sophomore Rujuta Bhatt, an attendee. “Everyone has such beautiful dances and puts so much time into them.”

Performers held a dress rehearsal the day before the event, but acts were rehearsed for about three weeks before the performance.

“We didn’t have selection,” said Podja Shagia, ISA program director. “Anyone who wanted to perform e-mailed us, and it was on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Prior to the performances, ISA and Program Board members greeted attendees at the door with traditional red diya candles. In India, people light candles in the street to welcome the return of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity. The tradition evolved into turning off lights in households and lighting candles there instead.

The Marvin Center’s florescent lights remained on throughout the evening.Although GW’s celebration was held Saturday, the festival of Diwali took place on Oct. 25. The Indian Students’ Association could not secure the Marvin Center until this week and had to postpone their celebration.

Diwali organizers said they were pleased with the turn-out and event activities.

“Obviously more Indian people attend because they tend to know more about Diwali; however, we advertise throughout the D.C. community,” said Pia Chowdry, Indian Students’ Association vice president. “Other schools invite us to their celebrations.”

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