ASI Brings India’s Biggest Festival to NDSU

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In November, students and faculty at North Dakota State have Thanksgiving on their mind. But for some, this month brings more than just turkey and the unavoidable shopping insanity that follows.

For students from India, the biggest celebration of the year occurs during this time of the year. Diwali, also known as Deepawali or the Festival of Lights, begins around Nov. 7 and lasts until Nov. 11. Dates differ depending on the year and region, dictated by the Hindu calendar.

Diwali Night will be 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Great Plains Ballroom in the Memorial Union. It is separated into three segments, each of which features a different aspect of Indian culture.

At NDSU, the Association of Students from India has put on a Diwali Night off and on since 1989. It is a chance for them to get together, but also to share this unique festival with other students from around the world.

“It’s like a free journey to India,” ASI public relations officer Bharat Verma said. “Or you can say it’s Indian Thanksgiving.”

Diwali Night starts with a cultural show, where dancers will perform in the Bollywood style. There will also be a puppet show and a fashion show with examples of traditional outfits from every state in India.

“See, my favorite part of Diwali is the cultural show, in which we bring the culture of India, through the performance, to the people,” Verma said.

After that comes the food. Verma said the meal showcases many classic Indian foods, including chai tea, a main course and desserts. NDSU Dining is helping them prepare the meal.

The night finishes off with a DJ and the dance floor opens to all. As ASI president Achintyamugdha Sharma said, this gives everyone a chance to dance and socialize.

“In my personal opinion, I love the DJ part, because it gives the people a chance to relax,” Sharma said. He added that he also enjoys being able to “make some moves” on the dance floor.

It takes the association, one of NDSU’s largest with around 300 participants, more than half a year to prepare for this event. This year they are focusing on making this holiday a shared experience. They are inviting the community to take part and get a sense of what Indian culture is really like.

“Although this event is done by ASI, we do have involvement and participation of people from different nationalities,” Sharma said. “This event gives an opportunity for kind of socializing and breaks a divide. (It’s) an attempt to bring people closer.”

In addition to the three main parts, there will also be photos, art, speeches from their sponsors and NDSU faculty and several short skits.

Most importantly, Diwali Night offers a chance for students to get together during a time when they may be feeling homesick. At this event, students can celebrate with their friends, as well as make some new ones.

“It’s like NDSU family we create that we celebrate with,” Verma said.

Those interested in attending can purchase tickets from Verma by emailing him at bharat.verma@ndsu.edu or stopping by ASI’s booth in the Union from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tickets cost $10 for tri-college students, $12 for alumni and $15 for non-students.

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