Diwali-Eid Festival

Traditional dancing, home-cooked food, and brightly colored South Asian outfits. All of these and more were found at the Diwali-Eid show last Friday. Phillips Academy’s India/Pakistan Society (IndoPak) organized this annual event. Co-head Abhishek Sripad ’07 said, “It is important to have a Diwali and Eid celebration at Andover because the school is supposed to represent the world at large. Statistically, there are more Hindus and Muslims [combined] in the world than any other religion. In India and Pakistan, we see the rare blend of two religions and cultures. Therefore, in a sense, we are bringing the world to Andover.” Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of lights, a celebration of Lord Rama’s defeat of the demon Ravana. One of the most significant events of the Hindu calendar, the festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. This festival usually occurs at the end of October or beginning of November, during which Hindus celebrate by getting together with family and friends and enjoying good food, song, and dance. Eid al-Fitr is the festival of fast-breaking, observed by Muslims who fast during the month of Ramadan. On the first day of Eid, many Muslim families wake early and go to their mosques to attend khutbah, a congregational prayer and special sermon. After fasting from sunrise to sunset each day during the Islamic lunar calendar’s ninth month, many Muslims celebrate all the things they are grateful for with joyous festivities, food, and gifts. During the first part of the evening, a charity dinner in Underwood offered a broad selection of home-cooked South Asian food such as naan (flat bread), chana (spicy chickpeas), chicken, and other dishes with rice and vegetables. As of last years, IndoPak established this dinner to be a fundraising dinner for natural disaster relief. Sales from the $5-a-plate dinner raised an impressive sum of $350. Later, IndoPak presented the Diwali-Eid talent show, which was M.C.’d by IndoPak members Rohan Hooda ’07, Nikhil Sabharwal ’07, and Ishan Kapoor ’09. They kept the audience engaged between acts by performing a series of brief skits. They also presented their own act, a mock-interview with members of the PA campus. In the video, they asked questions from “Who is the current Prime Minister of India?” to “Who is the most attractive South Asian on campus?” The students’ responses were intentionally ridiculous, but hilarious as well. Many students also performed many South Asian-style dances. According to Nayab Khan ’08, “The most fun part of the Diwali show was performing the Bhangra dance. The group had really bonded in the days leading up to the show, which made performing it really fun.” Blue Strut members Renee Amirault ’07, Farah Dahya ’08, and Kiara Brereton ’09 danced an IndoFusion dance, which first appeared in last year’s Diwali-Eid show. Some brightly colored dupattas, Indian scarves, jazzed up their black outfits and reflected the girls’ creative combination of traditional Indian and contemporary western dance styles. In addition to this year’s talent show, IndoPak hosted an “Indian accent contest.” A handful of audience members entered the contest hoping to win a $30 gift certificate to the Bollywood Grill in North Andover. After listening to the contestants’ best attempts at Indian accents – ranging from actual Hindi phrases to lines from “The Simpsons” character Apu – the competition narrowed to Eddy Kang ’07 and Andi Zhou ’09. After reciting part of the “Welcome to India” rap, a humorous rendition of Ludacris’s hit “Welcome to Atlanta,” Zhou eventually emerged victorious. The final event of the program was the fashion show, which is traditionally one of the most popular elements of the Diwali-Eid show. Over thirty models clad in traditional South Asian attire strutted down the Kemper aisle in pairs. The evening was a fantastic success. Sripad concluded, “Whenever you’re able to coordinate a lot of people into doing something, it’s a good feeling.”