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Unity is Strength: A Indo-American Celebration

Katherine Isojoki

C.W. Post’s 2nd annual Diwali Celebration offered opportunities for students from all backgrounds to participate in a world renowned Indian celebration where traditions meet modernity.  The festivities went off with a bang at 7pm on Thursday, November 3rd, hosted by the Indo-American Club, and co-sponsored by ISS and ISU.

Diwali, known as the festival of lights and awareness of one’s inner light, is also thought by many as a celebration of the victory of good over evil. For the attendees at the party on C.W. Post campus, the victory most certainly was the successful gathering of a diverse array of world citizens. American, Chinese, Norwegian, and Indian students ate customary dishes, danced wildly, and participated in traditional Hindu religious practices, all the while bringing together a fusion of cultural displays.

The giving of Puja, a habitual practice of blessing, began the ceremony and was given to all willing participants. Adorned with offerings and idols of the gods, Ganesh and Lakshmi, the tiny temple stood behind Nisha Yadau who sang the prayers and waved a plate of flowers which held a clay oil-burning “diya” lamp. Each attendee came up one by one to participate in this fundamental service.

Following the blessing ceremony was a captivating dance routine by Meena Darak, Shreya Desai, Ikjyot Kaur, and Sanjana Kapur which, when viewed head on, the three girls became one in the representation of the many armed Goddess Kali. The art program continued, as Jessica Gerrara, an Indian-American student, picked up her guitar to perform a cover of “Sunday Morning,” by Maroon Five. Jessica’s tribute served as a representative of when cultures collide. An audience member came up during the performance to help her tune her guitar, which came as an illustration of the mood of sharing and collaboration innate in the evening’s spirit.

After refueling with savory and sweet dishes including Chole Masala, Bajar Kahalwa and Chinese noodles, the evening progressed with the improvisations of student music mixers and impromptu dance instructors. Menna took the lead by showing off her Bollywood moves which were mirrored by the rest of the dance circle. While the majority of students who filled the floor were Indian, others without any prior experience with these techniques came away as kings and queens of the dance hall. Old-school movie scores and current hip-hop mixes by Indian artists rang through the party’s many rooms. Songs such as “Ainyve Ainyve”, Gori Nal Ishq Mitha”, and “Tera Mast de Mast Te Do Nain” kept the crowd busy until way over the party’s scheduled conclusion.

The Indo-American Club, which serves as a social liaison between American and South Asian arts, culture, and academic programs, has been a presence at Long Island University of two years. During a bittersweet passing of the torch, Meena Darak, founder, and president of the club until the end of this semester, announced that the new President will be Rohan Kapur, a sophomore at C.W. Post from Delhi. After accepting his new position, he spoke of continuing this tradition on campus for years to come. “Diwali is one of the most important festivals in India and since we are Indian we want to show our fellow students our culture.”

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