Reason #782 why I love UNH: the diversity and culture I can experience right on my own college campus. Who would think a small New England town in rural New Hampshire would have so much to offer? I had a sense of our diverse community of students but had no idea it was as large as it is until I went to Diwali: Festival of Lights.
The term Diwali is a literal translation of a row of lights; it’s no wonder this holiday has such a strong emphasis on the power of light overcoming darkness. The official holiday, which originated in India, encourages people to seek out the good — no matter how faint — in the midst of the bad, and encourages an optimistic view of the world through the practice of positive belief. This celebration reflects a common theme across many historical narratives — believing our current struggle will ultimately lead toward triumph.
I got to experience this holiday and everything it represents at UNH’s very own Diwali, which kicked off International Education Week here on campus. The Indian Subcontinent Students’ Association (ISSA) offered performances throughout the night, while the event featured authentic Indian cuisine for its guests.
What caught my attention the most was the women’s traditional Indian clothing. Draped in silk, chiffon, embellished ornaments and beading, their garments were woven together with lustrous gold and silver threads. It may be overwhelming to some, but in traditional Indian culture it’s a symbolic representation of the self. Up close, I noticed the traditional bindi worn by Hindu women at the center of the forehead. Some were more extravagant than others, but all signified the meaning of clarity and the opportunity for enlightenment.
In some cultures, bowing is a common custom used to show respect for each other. We could all show each other more respect. Whether it be with a bow, a handshake or simply a smile, make an effort to show someone that you respect them.
Want to experience more? Check Wildcat Link for more events scheduled during International Education Week.