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SU Celebrates Hindu Festival of Lights

October 24, 2007

SELINSGROVE, (Pa.) – The sixth annual Diwali festival will be held at Susquehanna University Nov. 17. Commemorating the traditional Hindu “Festival of Lights,” the event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with a performance by traditional Indian dancers in Degenstein Center Theater. Dinner, catered by the Harrisburg restaurant Passage to India, will be served at 7:15 p.m. in Evert Dining Room. Tickets are $20 for adults and children 8 years old and over, $16 for SU faculty and staff, and $10 for students. Children under 8 years old are free. Tickets may be purchased at the university box office by calling 570-372-ARTS (2787).

The festival also will feature a special educational program for elementary school children at 8 p.m. in Shearer Dining Rooms 1-3 of Degenstein Campus Center . During the program, children will explore various aspects of Indian culture from henna, bindis and clothes to musical instruments, puppets, books and film. In addition, one of the dancers from the pre-dinner performance will teach children Indian dance steps.

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.

Diwali, an abbreviated version of the word Deepavali, meaning “rows of lighted lamps,” 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: Victoria Kidd


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