On Sunday, Nov. 3, the Drillfield will illuminate with fireworks in celebration of Diwali.
Diwali, known as the festival of lights, is a Hindu tradition and India’s biggest festival of the year. It originates from various mythical and historical events in Indian culture to celebrate the beauty and enjoyment of life.
The Indian Student Association (ISA) at Virginia Tech strives to bring the essence of Diwali to the Hokie community, said Shyam Nambiar, vice president of ISA.
“Diwali is the time to get together with other people and celebrate, and that’s what we are trying to recreate here,” Nambiar said. “It’s mainly about having a lot of fun. Usually this is kind of a break during the school year about getting together with family, bursting firecrackers and having a lot of food.”
The fireworks, which will begin at 7:30 p.m., are a culmination of the local Diwali celebration that ISA presents annually. This 10-day holiday is compressed into one exotic celebration that includes a culture show in Burruss Hall at 5 p.m. and a ticketed dinner in the Commonwealth Ballroom in Squires Student Center at 8 p.m.
The Indian community of undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, their families and many more attend the festivities to share and celebrate in their cultural identity.
Diwali is ISA’s largest event and is widely acknowledged by the Virginia Tech and local community. This year, President Steger and Dr. Guru Ghosh will be in attendance as the chief guests. In addition, Taaza Indian Cuisine Roanoke is catering the dinner with an authentic menu, including items like naan, rice and hot garlic chicken kebabs.
Other organizations, like Virginia Tech Dhammal and the Society of Indian Americans (SIA), will contribute to the Diwali event as well by performing in the cultural show.
“The cultural show is a means of showcasing Indian culture and the extremely awesome talent that we have of Indian students here at Virginia Tech and kind of to get people to experience Indian culture through dance forms and songs,” Nambiar said.
One of the regular performers is a band of graduate students. Band member and graduate student, Avik Sengupta, who plays the guitar, calls the band a very “eclectic group.” They all play a wide variety of music and instruments from the violin to the tabla, an instrument similar to the drums.
The band, which doesn’t have a name, gets together for Diwali and chooses about six songs from different genres to create a diverse set list.
“What we try to portray here is how diverse our whole community is, it might not be that everyone celebrates Diwali similarly in all parts of our country, because it’s a huge country as far as diversity of people and music,” Sengupta said. “We don’t only play just one kind of music, we try to show that they’re from different parts of India so we try Indian classical to western jazz to blues.”
This band is familiar with preparing for Diwali but for other performers, auditions are set in place to determine what is appropriate for an event of this nature.
“Mainly what we need is to stick by the theme of an 'Indianness.' We are open to the entire community,” Nambiar said. “If anyone wanted to do a performance which conveyed the spirit of Diwali or had a message pertinent to Indian culture in a community-friendly way, then we are definitely open to those possibilities.”
Tickets for the dinner are $16 and can be purchased online at http://www.isa.org.vt.edu.