Diwali and Garba night brought students together to celebrate away from home with a new college community
A crowd of students from different countries gathered in the Kings Lounge at St. James campus to celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, with a variety of dishes and Garba dancing.
Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali to honour the return of Lord Rama. The story says that Rama was in exile for 14 years to defeat his rival Ravana. When he returned, villagers illuminated the path of the new king to celebrate the triumph of the good over the evil. This is why the celebration is recognized by the use of candles, fireworks and decorative lights.
Another particularity of this celebration is the dancing. Garba is a form of dance that originated in Gujarat and is among the most popular. This dance is performed in circular group movements, often with Dandiya sticks to support the percussions.
The celebration at George Brown College also had other attractions for students.
“It’s an opportunity for them to meet friends and eat different foods, and of course they love the dancing. We also have a whole bunch of prizes, so it’s quite exciting,” said Anoucha Villavarayan, a business development officer for South Asia and the Middle East at the college.
The event was co-organized by the Student Association (SA), which funds The Dialog, and the international centre at George Brown.
Students dancing at the Diwali and Garba night. Photo: HRS Photography courtesy of the Student Association of George Brown College.
“We try to showcase the different cultures for our students, so they are learning about the celebrations in different countries,” said Villavarayan.
According to Riddhi Modi, the SA’s director of communications and internal, the main purpose of these events is to give a sense of belonging.
“What we really want is for them (students) to feel at home, enjoy, dance, celebrate Diwali as they would celebrate back in their countries with their families,” said Modi.
Aiste Ziauberyte, a human resources student from Lithuania, didn’t know Diwali was a Hindu celebration.
“I just decided to come and see what’s going on and see different cultures, but it’s actually a particular Indian event, that’s what I understand now that I came, and I like it,” said Ziauberyte.
For other students, it was a chance to feel closer to their cultural community.
“We are from different areas in our country, so it helps us create bonds with our friends and enjoy ourselves,” said Anirudh Sharma, a first-year student in the business administration program, who attended the event with a group of Indian friends to enjoy the celebration.