International students from JSU Global – a hub for the many programs that assist in the globalization of JSU – coordinated the university’s first Diwali Festival. The festival of lights is one of the largest and most important Hindu celebrations in the Indian culture.
The festival’s name correlates with the row of clay lamps that Indians place outside their homes symbolizing the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness.
“The most important aspect about Diwali in our culture is the celebration of good over evil,” says Dr. Venkata Melapu, assistant professor of computer science. “The festival is celebrated with lights. Light is knowledge and knowledge is power. Knowledge is vital as it relates to understanding that Diwali is a light that shines from within ourselves acknowledging the victory of good over evil.”
Throughout the years, the traditional event has transitioned into a national festival that is celebrated by most Indians regardless of their religious beliefs.
“We are so excited to share our culture with the Jackson State community,” says Dipannita Saha, a senior graphic design student. “For this event, we are wearing traditional Indian clothing, eating authentic food, entertaining the audience with our cultural dance, and we have a henna station.”
The story of Diwali is interpreted by Hindus based upon where they live.
• In southern India, it is celebrated as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
• In northern India, Diwali is praised as the narrative of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps.
• In western India, the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, sent the demon King Bali to rule the netherworld.
Shameeka Reed, international marketing/recruiting specialist and study abroad coordinator for JSU Global says, “This event is important because Jackson State has over 60 different cultures represented here on campus. It’s vital that we practice inclusion and tolerance to show the international community that we appreciate them. We want to continue to show the community that JSU is a global university.”
On the calendar, Diwali is observed on Nov. 7. The countries of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, China, South Korea and Africa also had student representation at the festival.