Word on the street: Diwali traditions

What are your Diwali traditions?

Diwali, commonly known as the festival of lights, is best known amongst Wash. U. students through the Ashoka-sponsored dance performance. But as a traditional Indian holiday, Diwali is also celebrated through unique family traditions. Student Life asked students around campus to tell us about their own Diwali customs and celebrations.

Kash Desai
Junior

“I don’t do anything in college, but my family used to put out lamps in the house. It’s usually just a family thing…I think I celebrate most of the [holidays] pretty equally, but I guess I like Diwali more than the others. Seeing the Ashoka show, that’s like basically how I celebrate Diwali now.”

Gurpreet Seehra
Junior

“Diwali is the holiday that is celebrated all throughout India…the religion that I am a part of is the Sikh religion. And so what we do is we go to our temple, called the Gurdwara, and we pretty much just pray and light candles because it’s the festival of lights. So that’s pretty much what I do outside of the dance performance. Whenever we go to [the house of worship] after praying and lighting candles there is something called a langar that is pretty much when everyone who is part of the community will sit down together and eat a meal. But that isn’t something that is different from regular services.”

Rivfka Shenoy
Senior

“Diwali at my place is actually kind of like Thanksgiving for a lot of American families. So we actually host it at my home every year, and my mom cooks all day, and we all help her clean the house and cook, and then basically our entire Indian community comes over that night. And for my parents who came to the U.S. like 25 to 30 years ago, the people we have met from Portland—I am from Portland, Ore.—are now more like our family sometimes than people back in India. So they all come over, and we just eat a lot of food, and all the kids hang out, and then we do a special ceremony called pooja, and everyone’s kind of involved in that, and then we end the night by doing fireworks out in our backyard. It’s really fun, and it’s always nice to see everybody and gather together, and we all dress up in Indian clothes, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Christina Sukhu
junior

“Growing up I always went to temple with my family for Diwali. And because it’s the festival of lights we always set up diyas in our house—they are like little clay lamps that have the wick in them that you light.”

Tell us your Diwali traditions in the comments below!!!

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