The Charger Blog

University of New Haven Community Celebrates ‘The Festival of Lights’

The University’s recent Diwali celebration brought the Charger community together for a fun and vibrant celebration of culture, featuring food, performances, and a sense of community.

November 28, 2023

By Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA

The event brought Chargers together to celebrate Diwali.
The event brought Chargers together to celebrate Diwali.

As part of International Education Week (IEW), the Indian Student Council (ISC) and the Office of Graduate and International Student Life (OGISL) collaborated to celebrate the grandiosity of Diwali, the festival of lights, in the Beckerman Recreation Center with a sole motive to promote the benefits of international education and enhance cultural exchange.

Ishmeet Malhotra ’24 M.S., vice president of the ISC, emphasized the idea of “feeling like home” through the Diwali celebration for Indian Chargers who were away from their families this Diwali. She thanked the OGISL for hosting IEW.

Students were charged up to celebrate Diwali at the University.
Students were charged up to celebrate Diwali at the University.

“Including a Diwali event during International Education Week is a commendable addition by the University,” said Malhotra. “Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, holds immense cultural and social significance in India and among Indian communities globally. By incorporating Diwali celebrations into IEW, it not only showcases the rich cultural heritage of India but also provides an opportunity for individuals from various backgrounds to experience and appreciate its customs, traditions, and values.”

The Diwali event was a fun-filled evening featuring food, performances, and open dance floors for the people to groove on.

“As a performer and leader for the event, I had an immensely fulfilling feeling, and it was an exciting experience for me,” said Malhotra. “My purpose and goal of welcoming new faces to the stage was accomplished through this event. We took this opportunity to display varying performances that respected and depicted every culture and tradition of India.

“Each dancer brought their unique cultural elements and dance styles from North, West, and East India,” she continued. “Indeed, balancing these diverse aspects while staying within the allotted time frame was a significant task. One of my challenges was to ensure that every religion and cultural background was included in the performance, which we were able to fulfill.”

The celebration included music and dancing.
The celebration included music and dancing.
‘The Diwali event was special’

Malhotra said the evening was a “joyous adventure.” She was ecstatic to see smiling faces everywhere and was happy to see people dancing and enjoying this get-together regardless of where they were from or their cultural beliefs.

“Witnessing people come together, immerse themselves in the festivities, appreciate the cultural richness, and engage in the celebration regardless of their backgrounds is the true essence and beauty of such events,” she said.

A table decorated for Diwali.
A table decorated for Diwali.

Surabhi Nagraj ’24 M.S., president of the ISC, believes that everyone present at the event was happy and excited to be part of the celebration. She found people happily expressing themselves and commenting on the décor, which was well-balanced with traditions and festivities.

Nagraj considered this Diwali celebration part of “a home away from home.” Nagraj also shared an emotional statement since this was the final event for the current ISC e-board, which is set to renew later this year.

The Diwali event was special to us as this was our final chance to come together and delve into planning and execution,” she said. “We are extremely thankful to OGISL and our advisor, Dorothy Classen, who was with us every step of the way. If there is something I will miss, it will be working with the e-board and planning cultural events for the ISC and our Indian students.”

‘More than just a festival of lights’

Nagraj supports the idea of additional cultural events and celebrations taking place on campus and believes it to be a good way for everyone to learn.

Chargers celebrate Diwali together at the University.
Chargers celebrate Diwali together at the University.

Pranay Udaygiri ’24 M.S., secretary of the ISC, encouraged students to participate at future Diwali events and commended the fellow members of his e-board for being enthusiastic about pulling off a wonderful celebration.

“The excitement and enthusiasm displayed at the celebration created a colorful and festive atmosphere,” said Udaygiri.

He thanked every participant for being available despite their busy schedules and for showcasing immense efforts to display a fun and fulfilling celebration. He also extends his heartfelt wishes to everyone and encourages his fellow Chargers to believe in the good with positivity and happiness within.

“Diwali is more than just a festival of lights – it is a victory celebration of light over darkness and good over evil,” he said.

Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA is a candidate in the University’s MBA program.