SASA organizes Diwali Festival


Maddie Boudov ’21, Community News Editor Sarah Healy ’20, Rachel Tan-Goldhammer and Chronicle Layout Assistant and Staff Writer Sarah Mittleman ’22 engage in activities such as henna decorating. Credit: Tanisha Gunby/Chronicle

Tessa Augsberger

The South Asian Students’ Alliance (SASA) hosted a Diwali festival after school Friday on the Quad. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights observed in late October and early November primarily on the Indian subcontinent.

Founder and President of SASA Mohona Ganguly ’21 organized the event on campus.

“Because Diwali is one of the holidays that all of the [Indian] subcontinent can enjoy together, we wanted to bring it to HW because it’s one of the unifying holidays throughout the subcontinent,” Ganguly said. “We thought that it would be wonderful to have our first festival and first big event as a club be that holiday.”

Diwali festival is celebrated across continent

According to Ganguly, Diwali is celebrated in different ways depending on where it is observed.

“It depends on which area of the subcontinent you’re from,” Ganguly said. “The main part of the celebration is lighting the lamps, and, of course, the food and the dancing.”

At the festival, students danced, got henna tattoos and made small oil lamps called diyas, which, according to Ganguly, are typically lit around the home during Diwali. SASA’s celebration of Diwali also featured traditional Indian cuisine.

SASA member Isa Sylbert ’22, who attended the event, said the festival allowed her friends to experience her Indian culture firsthand.

“When I went, me and my friends all came together,” Sylbert said. “It was really fun, and they got to learn a little bit more about India, which was cool.”

Club plans for future events 

Ganguly said SASA plans to make the Diwali festival an annual occurrence, in addition to hosting more events in the future.

“For next year, we’re planning on doing it again, so we’re very excited for it,” Ganguly said. “As for later this year, we’re planning on doing fundraisers for charities on the subcontinent that are still dealing with the aftermath of the Kerala storms, and we’re also planning on doing festivals for both Holi and Eid [al-Fitr], but we’re still working on the format of those festivals.”

For next year’s Diwali festival, Ganguly said she hopes to incorporate new elements that would increase student involvement in the festivities.

“We were very excited to see that many people came to celebrate our culture. We actually – not to sound pompous or anything – think that we had a pretty good layout for a festival, but we also think that maybe next time we can incorporate more live performances and more student interactions,” Ganguly said.