Indian Students Celebrate Light Festival

By By U Wire

By U Wire

EUGENE, Ore.?Streams of flickering Christmas lights covered the inside of Agate Hall at the University of Oregon on Saturday night, brightening up the room as if handfuls of glitter were tossed on the walls and ceilings.

An archway of silver lights sparkled at the entrance while pink and blue hues shimmered throughout the rest of the room. On this night, the lights were supposed to fight off darkness?symbolizing good over evil.

Students of the Indian Subcontinent celebrated Diwali, festival of the lights, with more than 100 people filling the building. Eating curry and tandoori chicken and participating in traditional Indian dances, students and community members honored the famous Hindu holiday.

“In India, it’s like Christmas times two,” SIS President Aarti Tanna said. “Fireworks are everywhere, and every house is lit with candles. On different days we are worshipping different aspects of what we feel is important in our lives.”

With roots in Hindu mythology, “Diwali” comes from the Sanskrit word “deepavali”?”deep” means “light” and “avali” means “row.” The celebration marks Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom after 14 years of exile and his conquest of places in India’s southern subcontinent.

The five-day festival also is seen as the beginning of the New Year in India, where more than 80 percent of the population practices Hinduism.

In India?and areas Indians have settled, such as Nepal?homes are lit with oil lamps, candles and lights throughout the days and into the nights to ward off darkness and evil. Each region of India associates different myths and legends with each day.

In many areas, Lord Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune, is worshipped one day. Some people also set aside a day to honor Kali/Durga, the goddess of strength. People clean their houses, decorate their homes with flowers and bake sweet treats to honor the gods.

Although more than 20 different states in India have their own languages and traditions, Diwali is a holiday that unites everyone, graduate student Avik Chakraborty said.

“This is one festival that is celebrated in uniformity and with equal enthusiasm,” he said. “It brings the same meaning to everyone?light over darkness. And it brings people together.