Indian Student Association 2018 Diwali celebration lit up Friday night

In celebration of the Festival of Lights, SMU’s Indian Student Association threw its 40th annual Diwali party on Friday, Nov. 2 in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom with live musical guests, traditional Indian dances and free food for all students to enjoy,

“Generally, it’s a day for people to get together, light candles, eat food and have a good time,” Indian Student Association president Kerman Ahluwalia said.

The event had good attendance with upward of about 250 students and Dallas residents. The number of attendees thrill ISA board.

“Our max estimate for people showing up was around 240 and we outdid that number, so that was exciting,” Kabir Ahluwalia, one of the fundraising chairs, said.

The evening was split into two portions: the first was a show with live entertainment. The show started with masters of ceremony Abhi Nadella and Dhruv Prasad briefly explaining of the holiday’s religious context.

The freshman girl's Diya dance Photo credit: Lauren Lehner

“The significance is that a Hindu god was returning home and people are rejoicing,” PR chair Priyashi Shah said.

One of the live performances came from the first year students who performed a traditional Diya or “light” dance, which freshman Nikita Kulkarni said symbolized fireworks characteristic of Diwali.

“It’s based upon the traditional dances of older times, and then it went into more Bollywood modern,” Kulkarni, who is freshman fundraising chair, said. “It was really fun getting to know all the freshman girls, because I didn’t know them before that.”

There was also an ISA undergraduate and graduate student fashion show. Natesa Vaidya said the fashion show was one of the more important elements of the event.

“It gives the public eye, mostly the SMU community, a way to see the Indian community in a different lens,” Vaidya said. “I feel like a lot of people know about the food and the religion, but the clothing is something that is very important to us as a culture.”

The fashion show feeds into ISA’s mission of having fun events that students of all backgrounds can come out and enjoy, but also learn from, Shah said.


“It was a way of understanding people in a deeper way. It brings the community closer and teaches the community to grow in itself,” Shah said.

“It was a way of understanding people in a deeper way. It brings the community closer and teaches the community to grow in itself.”

SMU sophomore Alberto Marrufo attended ISA Diwali for the second time this year. He has enjoyed the event both times.

“I really like it because it gives me the opportunity to explore different cultures besides my own, and gives you a better sense of where you are and the people around you,” Marrufo said.

The Diwali celebration show ended with two ISA members performing original songs and rap. The second portion of the event was more relaxed. Students enjoyed Indian cuisine and dancing.

2020 Music
One of the acts during the event, 2020 Music Photo credit: Lauren Lehner