Get lit in celebration of the festival of lights at the ASU Diwali formal

The Unified Society of South Asians hosts the event to celebrate the Hindu holiday Diwali

Thousands of miles from home and separated from one's own culture, South Asian student organizations work to create opportunities to celebrate religious holidays such as the recently passed Hindu festival of lights, Diwali

The groups said they hope to lessen the sting caused by this distance and bring a slice of home to ASU with the annual Diwali formal on Nov. 30, hosted by the Unified Society of South Asians and Andaaz, a Bollywood dance group.

The formal will be held at the Moxy Hotel near the Tempe campus on Nov. 30, 2018. Ticket prices are $12 for one, $18 for two and $15 per person at the door. There will be catered food and a DJ playing both Bollywood and popular music to dance to for hours as well.

“(The event is for) international students that are here from India and don’t get to visit home as much, to feel at home with all singing and the dancing and just putting together an event like this where they can be part of their culture,” said Bhavna Ramesh, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering and co-captain of Andaaz.

Ramesh said celebrating your culture is important especially when you are separated from it.

“I think it's really important to be proud of one's culture, and events like these are kind of the main venue to show your pride, to show your love for your culture,” Ramesh said. 

Ekta Patel, a senior studying biomedical engineering and president of the Unified Society of South Asians, said the formal isn't only for ASU students who belong to the South Asian community.

“We definitely encourage those students to come out to celebrate it with all the South Asians that are on campus," Patel said. “Even those (students) who don’t know about the festival, we definitely encourage those (students) to attend.”

This year Diwali, a Hindu holiday dedicated to celebrating the victory of good over evil, fell on Nov. 7. Patel said the decorations for the event will reflect this message. 

“We basically made all the decorations centered around Diwali since Diwali is the festival of lights,” Patel said. “The entire venue will be decked out in colorful and bright light.”

The formal will include a diya lighting ceremony to honor the holiday, Patel said. 

"Diyas are represented as the illustration of the festival,” Patel said. “They're basically really special candles, and on the second day of the festival, they’re lit. So we wanted to make it a pretty big part of the event.”

Asha Devineni, a first year law student and co-president of the Unified Society of South Asians, said the formal is about more than just celebrating her own culture.

“The main thing is just about promoting engagement and understanding diversity. There's so many different cultures and so many different students with different backgrounds at ASU,” Devineni said. “I think that this event is supposed to be a nice way to show that whatever your affiliations are, you can come together and have fun for a night.”

For those looking to celebrate diversity and have fun, Ramesh said the event was designed to do just that. 

“The goal of this event is to make an environment where everyone can have fun, regardless of whether you associate yourself with the culture or not,” Ramesh said. “This is the event for pretty much everyone who wants to come and have a good time."

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