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Diwali Night 2011

by Stephen Margelony-Lajoie

On October 29, the Indian Students Association (ISA) sponsored Diwali Night 11’ and invited UMass to come celebrate Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights. The event was held in the exquisitely decorated Student Union Ballroom and kicked off with a brief slideshow of the history of Diwali. One of the members of the ISA who presented the slideshow stated that giving a history of Diwali would be a challenge because “Diwali holds a different meaning for everyone so the best I can do is tell you what it means to me.” The members of the ISA went on to say that for some Indians, Diwali is like Christmas (even though the celebration of Diwali begins the last week of October and goes into early November) and it can also be a time to celebrate one’s pride and love for one’s Indian roots.

After the presentation, the mood of the night was set by a Bollywood style, peppy dance by Dholi Taro followed by a dance performance by the UMass group Dhadak that featured choreography inspired by a fusion of traditional Indian and Western music. Both groups were able to get the crowd excited and set the stage for the next presentation: a skit by the ISA. The short skit, which was written almost entirely in Hindi, showed the story of Bande Mein Tha Dum, an Indian man who has been an inspiration for young, Indian political activists who seek to end the obvious corruption in Indian government. The skit was so well acted that its message was obvious to non-Hindi speakers and gave non-Indians a glimpse into a part of Indian culture that isn’t discussed much in the states.

The rest of the night was definitely musically-inspired with a romantic pas de deux dance by “Leo and Kimberly”, a dance by the ISA and, the highlight of the night, a live band from UMass Lowell that played tunes that got the crowd jumping around, dancing and singing along. So, despite an ironic power outage (Diwali is the Festival of Lights), the Indian Students Association pulled off a great event filled with live music, dance, theater and even a taste of traditional Indian food after the performances were done.

Click here for pictures from the event. For more information about the Indian Students Association, visit