IndoPak Diwali-Eid Dinner Celebrates Diwali Through Traditional Food and Festivities

In addition to the dinner, attendees had the opportunity to paint small oil lamps known as “diyas” in celebration of Diwali.

An array of Indian cuisine, including butter chicken, matar paneer, naan bread, rice, and mango lassi spanned two large tables in celebration of Diwali. Students enjoyed the various dishes and painted Indian candles as they shared stories of the history and meaning of Diwali while observing the Festival of Lights.

The Diwali-Eid Dinner, hosted by IndoPak, was held last Friday in the Underwood Room, and brought together students of various backgrounds. The dinner celebrates both Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and Eid, the Islamic festival of the sacrifice. According to Prem Prabhakar ’20, Co-President of IndoPak, the annual dinner celebrated one of the biggest holidays in Hindu and Indian culture and also provided an opportunity for club bonding.

Prabhakar said, “[This dinner] is something we do every year. Normally there aren’t that many outlets for Indian culture [on campus], so we brought Indian and South Asian culture together. This is our first big event of the year to provide a place for Indian people and also basically anyone on campus to eat food and have fun.”

Dinner attendee Miraya Bhayani ’21 commented on the opportunity to share the story of Diwali with the greater Andover community, as most may not know the significance or details of the holiday.

“I would describe [Diwali] as a rejuvenation celebration, and is based around the Rama and Sita who fall in love. The story gets told every Diwali, so it’s a very warm and loved-filled story,” said Bhayani.

The dinner was open to all students who wanted a taste of Indian cuisine. According to Emily Warren ’21, the dinner allowed her not only to eat authentic dishes, but to also understand Indian culture better.

“My friend, [Bhayani] wanted to celebrate Diwali because she’s from India, and I decided to try out some Indian food that is usually eaten to celebrate this holiday. I have never celebrated Diwali before, but I wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about [Bhayani’s] culture and heritage. It’s nice to see different groups on campus organize events that bring people from diverse backgrounds together,” said Warren.

According to Ronit Gupta, Co-President of IndoPak, eating Indian food is an important aspect of the celebration of Diwali. While Gupta is a day student and spends Diwali with his family, many boarding students do not have the same opportunity. The dinner enabled those students to find a community away from home to celebrate with, and spread awareness of Indian culture across campus.

“We just try to get as many people to know about Diwali as possible… we thought food is always a good [way to bring people together],” said Gupta. “It’s also important because there are a lot of boarders on campus who don’t get to spend Diwali with their families… and through our IndoPak club meetings and through this festival, we want to bring that sense of home to campus as much as we can.”