Citizens of Sackville celebrate Diwali in Convocation Hall

MOSAIC organizes annual celebration of light in honour of Hindu festival

The Convocation Hall lobby is decorated with dozens of candles and string lights. An unfinished rangoli sits in the corner, inviting attendees to help complete it. By the end of the night, it will be finished: a collaborative effort to create a unique, vibrant design. Organizers are putting the finishing touches on the evening’s meal, a full menu of hearty Indian cuisine including chana masala, raitha and dhal. This is MOSAIC’s Diwali celebration, and it is already bursting with liveliness and cheer.

“To me, [Diwali] means home. It makes me feel closer to home,” said Nikky Kundliwal, one of the event’s organizers. “It’s a time of celebration; it’s a time of forgiving and giving.” Diwali is a five-day Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Although it originates from India, Diwali is an official holiday in eleven countries. Now, for the third year in a row, Sackville is joining these countries in their celebrations.

Dr. Roopen Majithia, a Mount Allison professor of philosophy, opened Sackville’s Diwali celebration with a speech detailing the meaning of the festival with a particular focus on the cycle between light and darkness. The core message was the belief that one must endure the dark and cherish the light. After the speech, the attendees were each given a candle to hold. One candle was lit, and the light was spread from one candle to another to symbolize how anyone can bring light to others’ lives without diminishing their own. The ceremony was followed by two musical performances by students Jaelyn Audette and Tyson Miller, featuring John Lennon’s Imagine and George Ezra’s Blame It On Me.

After the performances, the highly anticipated dinner was served. The celebration boasted a variety of delicious Indian dishes, with ample left over for seconds, and dessert. As everyone ate, participants were encouraged to contribute to the rangoli art, traditional Indian art involving the creation of patterns from coloured rice. This was a new and welcome addition to the annual celebration. The organizers had coloured the rice for the rangoli the previous Monday in preparation. While Kundliwal noted that colouring the rice was “a long process,” the result was a beautiful and meaningful collective experience. The celebration ended in a dance circle where attendees followed along to Bollywood dance moves with organizers to songs like Gallan Goodiyan and Badri Ki Dulhania.

Rangoli art was not the only new feature in this year’s Diwali event. “Previously, students have been the primary body participating in the festivities,” explained MOSAIC president Maddy Bedard, “but this year, our focus was centred on making Diwali not only for students, but also for members of the Sackville community.” Indeed, many of the celebration’s attendees were Sackville residents rather than Mt. A students.

Bedard also added, “Festivities and celebrations like Diwali are great opportunities for our community to come together as one so that we can learn and celebrate the many important cultures of the world.” MOSAIC’s festival of light certainly granted Sackville an evening of celebration, learning and fun. Happy Diwali!

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