Diwali, or Dipawali, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. It is the Hindu festival of lights, which gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (diyas) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness. Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival that is also enjoyed by non-Hindu communities. For instance, in Jainism, Diwali marks the nirvana, or spiritual awakening, of Lord Mahavira on October 15, 527 B.C.; in Sikhism, it honors the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru, was freed from imprisonment. Buddhists in India celebrate Diwali as well.
It is a festival of new beginnings, where families clean their homes and workplaces to help bring good fortune and decorate them with clay lamps and rangoli to welcome Goddess Laxmi for puja (a prayer ceremony including an offering of flowers or fruit to the Goddess), followed by feasts and firework festivities. Celebrants wear new clothes throughout the festival and exchange gifts, sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
“Diwali is one of the most robust and important celebrations in Indian culture, and celebrating it at Stony Brook really brings students closer to home,” said Nistha Boghra, executive vice president, Undergraduate Student Government.
This year’s celebration includes a Diwali meal at Roth Cafe, a paint night, student performances and a presentation from the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies.
Saturday, November 11
Hindu Student Council is hosting a Diwali celebration at 6 pm in the Student Activities Center (SAC) Ballroom A. This event includes a night of performances, dancing and food. Sign up through SB Engaged.
Sunday, November 12
The Indian Graduate Student Organization is hosting a Diwali celebration at 7 pm in SAC Ballroom A with music, dance performances and a Diwali-themed quiz game.
Monday, November 13
A special menu will be featured for dinner at SAVOR at Roth Cafe from 4 pm to 10 pm, which includes pav bhaji, palak paneer, cilantro chutney, yogurt sauce, pav, basmati rice, naan, masala fries, gulab jamun and falooda milkshakes. There will be a diya decorating station and rangoli art. This event is hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the SBU Raaswalas, a co-ed Indian student dance team, in collaboration with SBU Eats.
Tuesday, November 14
The SBU Mattoo Center for India Studies will be lighting lotus-style lamps with small candles in them and floating them on Roth Pond beginning at 5 pm. All SBU undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, alumni, and local community members are welcome to attend. About 60 of the floating lotus lamps are available on a first come, first served basis, with about 200 smaller hand-held colored and plain clay diyas, brass diyas and tea lights, which people can hold while standing around the pond. A reception will follow at 6 pm at the Mattoo Center (Melville Library Suite E-5350, the east wing of the fifth floor with fresh samosas, gulab jamun, Indian savory and sweet snacks, masala chai, and more.
Thursday, November 16
Sthaneshwar Timalsina, a professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at Stony Brook University, will give a Zoom presentation about Diwali at 11 am. Hosted by the Finance and Administration Diversity Committee, employees must register by November 13.
The International Student Organization is hosting a Diwali Paint Night offering a creative journey that celebrates the essence of the culture. Students can paint their own Diwali-inspired masterpiece while immersing themselves in the rich culture and traditions of this beautiful festival. There will also be Indian snacks. Sign up through SB Engaged.
Wednesday, November 29
Campus Dietitian Laura Martorano will lead a teaching kitchen event for employees in Finance and Administration, Marketing and Communications, and the President’s Office. Participants will prepare a traditional dish typically served during Diwali. Employees in these three areas will need to register by November 21, as there are only 24 spots available.