The Indian Student Association at Virginia Tech celebrated Diwali’s 50-year anniversary on Sunday with singing, dancing and
Diwali is an event that takes place in India, said Sonal Mazumder.
“It’s a festival of lights, the triumph of good over evil. We always want to celebrate this day,” Mazumder said. “In India, every home celebrates it, and we light the home with a lamp and celebrate with fireworks.”
Mazumder, a graduate student studying macromolecular science and engineering, is the ISA’s first female president.
“It’s great, it’s an awesome feeling,” she said of her position.
As an India native, Manuj Awasthi, a graduate student studying aerospace engineering, the festival allowed him to remember his home country.
“It takes my mind away from all the hectic graduate work that I do and teaching and research and everything, so
it’s kind of nice to get nostalgic at times,” Awasthi said. “It feels good to have this ceremony here. It reminds me of back
The cultural celebration ceremony took place in Burruss Hall with traditional singing, a lamp lighting and a modern
Indian dance by the Kruti Dance Academy from Atlanta, a group that performed on “America’s Got Talent.”
Kumar Mallikarjunan, an ISA advisor and a biological systems engineering associate professor, spoke about the work the organization does.
“Over these years the association has done a great job providing aid to incoming students from India and giving them all their help and support for those few initial days,” he said. “They also work tirelessly to provide the opportunities for anyone to learn about India.”
Saloni Sood, a graduate student studying environmental engineering and ISA
member, said the group has helped him adjust to life in the U.S.
“(The ISA) has been really helpful, because I was coming from India, and I didn’t know anybody from here,” Sood said. “They have a lot of cool traditions where they get people from the Indian community to pick new students up from the airport, and that helped me to get to Blacksburg from Roanoke airport.”
John Dooley, the vice president for Outreach and International Affairs, commemorated the Indian student legacy at Tech.
“Our research tells us that it was at least 70 years ago when the first Indian student came to Virginia Tech,” Dooley said. “And over those 70 years, the Indian culture and people have enriched this university.”
In addition to the Diwali celebration, the ISA remembered Raju Raghavan, the director of the Institute for Particle, Nuclear and Astronomical Sciences, who passed away on Oct. 20.