The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Talent showcased at Diwali celebration

Members of SMU’s Bhangra dance team perform at Saturday’s Diwali celebration in the Hughes-Trigg theater.Photo credit: Ben Ohene.


As the lights dimmed in Hughes-Trigg Theater Saturday night, the packed house jittered with excitement. Men, women and children of all cultures chatted happily and waved to friends. Cell phone cameras flashed throughout the room. But when the theater went dark and the spotlight turned to the emcees, the crowd cheered. The celebration had begun.

The SMU Indian Students Association hosted the 33rd Annual Diwali celebration Saturday. The night included performances, Indian cuisine and dancing.

“[Diwali] started out as a religious festival but now it’s gained cultural importance throughout India and the Indian diaspora throughout the world,” Student Body Vice President Jaywin Malhi said.

The five-day celebration is significant for different reasons for different religions. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs all have ties to Diwali. It’s common for even different geographical sects of the same religion to have different reasons to celebrate. However, all forms share the common thread of celebrating light and victory by the deities.

To celebrate Diwali in the home, many families clean their homes, fill their house with candles, make and share sweets and possibly say prayers. Some families feature intricate colorful patterns called rangoli outside of their home.

The tradition of firecrackers, however, is one that transcends geographic and religious boundaries. Malhi said Diwali is “kind of like New Year’s.” He said fireworks and firecrackers are a big part of the festivities for each household worldwide.

“There are no codes in India, like ‘you can’t do fireworks here’, so it’s just crazy,” Malhi joked.

Unfortunately, Dallas does have fire codes so celebrants did not shoot off fireworks in the Student Center Theater Saturday evening. Instead, the colorful, shimmering acts lit up the stage and fueled the crowd’s spirit.

The evening’s show contained eight acts — a mix of elaborate singing, dancing, and a fashion show finale. SMU ISA did not limit the show’s participation to the SMU population; some performers were from the surrounding community. About half of the people at the Diwali celebration were members of the Dallas community, not just students. For example, participants in the fashion show wore intricate, jewel-toned clothing by local design company LeChic Designs.

The two hour show was sprinkled with humorous banter by the emcees, talented performers, and enthusiastic clapping and singing along from the audience.

Audience members Sarah Lea and Hannah Kirst were a few of the hundreds that were dazzled by the performances. Lea noted that the SMU Bhangra team’s dance was her favorite.

The diversity of the performers and audience reflected the holiday’s universal message of celebrating. “This event really brings people together,” Malhi said. “There’s something about food, there’s something about dancing that people just shed their differences and start enjoying stuff together.”

The crowd contributed to an electric community atmosphere.

The show was followed by dinner and dancing in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom. ISA Secretary Myra Noshahi thought participating in Diwali was incredible.

“We had a really great exec and a really great ISA in general so we got it all done, had an amazing turnout, and we’re really happy about it,” Noshahi said.

ISA President Sherin John thought overall the event was a success due to the large turnout of roughly 500 people.

“We hope they’ll come back next year,” she said.

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