Melodic Indian music wove through exotically scented air in the Underwood Room last Friday evening during IndoPak’s 16th annual Diwali Eid Festival.
Clothed in brightly colored traditional Indian garb, students reflected, sang and danced in a joint celebration of Diwali, the Hindu “festival of lights,” and Eid, an Islamic holiday that marks the end of a month-long fast for Ramadan.
Raj Mundra, faculty advisor of IndoPak, said, “I think it’s a great celebration. [Hindu and Muslim] are very different cultures. That’s what IndoPak is about. That’s what this community is about. Bringing a lot of people together and celebrating with a larger community. I thought it was a great success.”
A small crowd of approximately 50 students, parents and faculty families gathered in the lobby outside the Kemper Auditorium as members of IndoPak unveiled an array of traditional Indian cuisines. Many cited the food as a main motivating factor to attend.
“I came because I have friends in the show and because I heard there was food,” said Kai Kornegay ’14.
In addition to spiced rice, attendees could also choose from Raita, a palate cleansing yogurt with cucmber and spices, Palak Paneer, a mix of spinach and Indian cheese, Chicken Tiki Masala, an orange curry, and Chana, curried chickpeas and naan.
After satisfying their food cravings, the crowd settled into the Underwood Room, which had been brightly adorned with chains of paper flowers and traditional decorations, for the Diwal Eid show.
MCs Brendan O’Connell ’13 and Ceylon Auguste-Nelson ’12 kept the audience entertained with light-hearted, impromptu skits in between the multitude of acts.
Members of IndoPak and audience members were invited to the front of the room to sing an Aarti, a traditional Hindu prayer. The rhythmic, haunting melody of the sacred hymn added a more serious and grounded feel to the otherwise light-hearted show.
Meera Bhan ’14 and Poonam Kamdar ’14 gave a brief history of Diwali and also spoke about what Diwali meant to each of them. Similarly, Ahmad Mustafa ’12 briefly introduced the festival of Eid.
With lively and rhythmic hand gestures, Aneesh Ashutosh ’15, Nikhil Dixit ’12, Vidush Mahansaria ’12, Nickhil Nabar ’13, Brendan O’Connell ’13, Siddarth Palaniappan ’13, Armaan Singh ’14 and Abhinav Venigalla ’15 performed a Bhangra dance.
In addition to performing group routines, the dancers also showed off their own unique moves with a solo routine. An impressive back flip from Nabar drew applause and cheers from the audience.
Dressed in an elaborate red sari embroidered with gold and green, Supriya Jain ’12 performed a self-choreographed Indian dance. The upbeat music and Jain’s expressive facial language and gestures emanated the joy of the festival.
A vibrant fashion show ended the Diwali Eid festival with spirit and unity, as it brought all the participants of the festival, as well as more community members, together.
The models included members of IndoPak and faculty guests Aya Murata, Dean of Pine Knoll Cluster, and Brad Silnultzer, Interim Director of Community Service. Dressed in colorful saris and dhotis, the models struck creative poses at the end of the catwalk.
“This is my fourth year attending the event. I think it just keeps getting better and better. Just the energy and enthusiasm in the students to celebrate a cultural festival like this on campus. Just to see the outpouring of support from other people. It’s amazing that [students] have the opportunity to do this,” said Manisha Jain, mother of Supriya Jain.
In addition to serving as entertainment and celebration, the Diwali Eid festival also provided a cultural output for students, giving them the opportunity to both share their cultures with the Andover community, and also experience it away from home.
“I thought it was really great because you don’t see how big the Indian culture is on this campus. And then they all come together. It was really cool listening to them pray,” said Charlotte Aaron ’14.
“[It was a] very nicely done event, lots of color, lots of culture. It brought back a touch of home,” said Javed Ahmad, father of Tasmiah Ahmad ’14 who is a member of IndoPak.