Fordham’s Very Own Festival of Lights


A diya is lit on Diwali, celebrating the victory of light over darkness (Abhinaba Basu via Flickr)


On Wednesday Nov. 11 , Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists will celebrate the ancient holiday, Diwali. Diwali is a traditional Hindu festival that literally translated means “Festival of Lights.” Fordham Lincoln Center’s Desi C.H.A.I., a South Asian cultural awareness organization, will be hosting its own annual Festival of Lights on Nov. 12 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Atrium. There will be food, cultural games and trivia; the event will be hosted by the Desi C.H.A.I. treasurer, Maryam Rahaman. 

“It signifies the victory of good over evil,” according to Desi C.H.A.I. President Vani Upadhyaya.  With the traditional lighting of diyas or lamps, Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness. For Hindus specifically, the day also “marks the return of the God and Goddess, Ram and Sita, respectively, to their hometown after living in exile for 14 years,” Upadhyaya said. It is also the celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Diwali traditions vary culturally but the most common and widespread custom is the lighting of the diyas, lamps and candles. According to Upadhyaya, many families will clean and decorate their homes in preparation for Diwali. “On the day of, along with the lighting of the diyas, families wear new or their best clothes, prayers are offered, gifts are exchanged and in India, there are often fireworks,” Upadhyaya said. 

“We will be honoring the festival with an explanation to the Fordham student body of what this holiday signifies, followed by cultural performances from students on campus, a catered Indian dinner and a dance floor,” Upadhyaya said.

Maryam Rahaman, who also hosted the event last year, said students can expect a night of music, dancing and Bollywood-themed games that will test their knowledge of film and music as well. “There will also be a Bollywood-themed dance performed by Desi C.H.A.I.’s executive board,” Rahaman said.

All students are welcome to participate in Fordham’s Festival of Lights. Nov. 12 will be an opportunity to interact with current club members while sampling a piece of Desi C.H.A.I. culture with friends. There will be food, entertainment and a chance to learn about Diwali’s importance in Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist faiths. Upadhyaya encourages all those interested to attend and to reach out to the members of Desi C.H.A.I. if they want to learn more about the organization. Desi C.H.A.I. holds bi-weekly meetings, and the executive board can be reached at [email protected].