Indo-Pak Diwali-Eid Festival Hits Home

The Diwali-Eid show was the perfect celebration for Indo-Pak, a campus club that works to unite Indian and Pakistani students. Nadine Khan ’09, co-head of Indo-Pak, said, “We wanted to have a show that celebrated both religions in Indo-Pak. This is basically the biggest event of the whole term.” Food was sold for five dollars a plate outside Kemper Auditorium, where the event took place. Some of the food sold included butter chicken and palak paneer. Within five minutes of opening, the line for the food was already long. The atmosphere was interesting as well. There was a wide variety of dress—traditional Hindu and Muslim clothing and mainstream American dress—being worn by those celebrating. In a way, the clothing itself epitomized the diversity found at Andover. “It’s a mix of two holidays,” said Rajesh Mundra, faculty advisor to Indo-Pak, “It’s Diwali, which is the most important holiday in the Hindu culture, and Eid. This is symbolic of Indo-Pak.” Eid traditionally takes place in late September, while Diwali takes place in late October. Rishi Jalan ’09 has fond memories of Diwali back in India. He said, “We burn firecrackers and we light our houses with candles. We make our houses sparkle with colorful lighting.” He continued, “We have to be at home and do some stuff for God. We go to each other’s houses to give them sweets. Just to rejoice.” While Eid is meant to commemorate the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, Diwali has a complex history. “It’s a Hindu tradition– the return of a god after many years of exile,” Ambika Krishnamachar ’11, “There’s a ton of fireworks and lights.” She also explained that she was wearing a Salwarkameez, a traditional article of clothing that women in Pakistan and India wear. The history of Diwali was and Eid was elaborated upon during the festival. The program for the festival was quite varied, including dancing, prayer, speeches, musical performances and an Indian accent contest for the politically incorrect at heart. The show started off with a reading about the history of Diwali read by Rishi Jalan ’09. The prayer for Diwali or “pooja” was sung by Zahra Bhaiwala ’10 along with a percussion instrument played by Arun Saigal ’09. Zainab Doctor ’10 then recited the Eid reading. In the reading, the history of Ramadan was explained as being the month when the Qur’an was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Eid is at the very end of this month. “The over-arching theme is the same to create a time of celebration and family bonding,” said Doctor about Eid. The call to prayer was then recited by Faiyad Ahmad ’10, followed by a musical performance featuring Rohan Malhotra ’11, who played the Tabla. The Tabla is a percussion instrument that dates back thousands of years. The instrument is actually two different drums. The performance also featured Arun Saigal ’09 who played the Mridangam, and Faiyad Ahmad ’10, who played the Sarod. The Mridangam is a two headed drum, similar to the Tabla except that the two heads of the drum are attached. The Mridangam is the oldest percussion instrument and was a precursor to every percussion instrument invented. The Sarod is a fretless string instrument that is approximately two thousand years old. After the musical performance was the cross-cultural Indofusion dance. This dance featured Shefali Lohia ’10, Ramya Prathuri ’10, Gauri Thaker ’10, Brenna Liponis ’10 and Georgia Pelletier ’11. Shefali Lohia ’10 showed great balance as she had to stand still in between her solo dances. The next act was Bhangra, which many dancers participated in. Bhangra performed a dance that fused elements of hip-hop and traditional dance to create quite an interesting act. Later on, there was an Indian Accent contest where about five contestants stood up to perform their best Indian accents. Lily Shaffer ’10 won the Indian accent contest, with her inside joke about her trip to Mumbai, India. There was also a fashion show that featured seemingly everyone in Indo-Pak. Some people were adorned head to toe with traditional makeup and clothing while others did not take it as seriously. All in all, the show was a great success and there was a large turnout.