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SU Celebrates Hindu Festival of Lights

Nov. 4, 2008

SELINSGROVE, (Pa.) – The seventh annual Diwali celebration will be held at Susquehanna University on Nov. 8. Commemorating the traditional Hindu “Festival of Lights,” the event kicks off at 6 p.m. with a lecture and demonstration in Degenstein Center Theater followed by dinner at 7 p.m. in Evert Dining Room. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $12 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the university box office by calling 570-372-ARTS (2787).

The lecture and demonstration will feature Rachita Nambiar, a classical Indian dancer who will demonstrate Bharatnatyam with her daughter. Bharatnatyam is an artistic yoga and the most widely practiced of Indian classical dances in South India. A dance troupe from Bucknell will also perform several modern Indian dances.

The buffet meal is catered by Harrisburg-based Passage to India and will include several traditional Indian appetizers and main dishes with chicken, lamb and vegetables.

Diwali celebrates the upcoming New Year with a focus on the gods of wealth, strength and knowledge, as well as on the good in others. An abbreviated version of the word Deepavali, meaning “rows of lighted lamps,” Diwali was traditionally a five-day festival beginning on the 15th day of Kartika in the Hindu calendar. Today, Diwali is often celebrated just one day but it remains one of the most important religious holidays in Hinduism – it means as much to Hindus as Christmas does to Christians.

During this time, homes are cleaned and decorated, windows are opened, candles and lamps are lit and fireworks are displayed to celebrate the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhaya, an ancient region of what is now northern India, after defeating Ravana in Lanka. It's a time of gift-giving and gathering for festive meals.

While there are many manifestations of the Diwali festival across the various regions of India and the Indian subcontinent, the celebration typically includes worship to Kali, the goddess of strength, and Laksmi, the goddess of wealth. It is also considered a time for believers to abolish laziness and evil, and to remove anger, hate and jealousy from their lives.

Contact: Gerald Cohen


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