By Udai Dhamija
This year, the Indian Society aims to entertain and charm its members, indulging them with the cultural diversity and excitement of India through a whole host of celebrations and opportunities. This Michaelmas term, the Indian Society will be collaborating with the South East Asian Society to celebrate the traditional Festival of Lights, Diwali, in November.
This festival is based on the epic story of the ancient Ramayana, and is extremely important in Asian communities, especially those which have roots in and around the Indian subcontinent. Ram, one of the major gods worshipped by Hindus, is an avatar of Vishnu, who is also important in Mahayana Buddhism. The religious festival celebrates the return of Ram and Sita from exile to Ayodhya, after a long war concerning the return of Dharma to the world, and the return from captivity of Sita from the hands of Raavan in Lanka. Their return was celebrated by the lighting of the city with diyas (candles) paying tribute to Sita, the avatar goddess of Lakshmi.
People today celebrate the festival by lighting their houses with candles inside and out. They perform Lakshmi puja (a Hindu prayer), opening all doors and windows so that the goddess can enter the house. The goddess Lakshmi has particular associations with wealth and fortune, hence the warm welcome offered to her by those who worship.
Fireworks have long been a part of the celebration (sadly not in Dublin, though), as has the tradition of people playing cards and gambling.
Our societies decided, in celebration of the festival, to provide students with a two-day experience of Diwali. The first will fall on 4 November, the eve of Diwali, as we host an event in Messrs Maguire beside O’Connell Bridge, where there will be food and refreshments. Both societies are focusing on creating and strengthening Trinity’s sense of community and encouraging students from all walks of life to come together and generally have a good time. We’re also working with the Cards Society to host a poker tournament, where some of the money gained goes to charity (the charities we have chosen are Flood Relief and Save The Tigers).
On the next day, 5 November (the day of Diwali), we plan to host a Lakshmi puja which all are welcome to attend, and there will be a movie afterwards.
So far this year, the Indian Society have had an Indian banquet night, with a tasty Indian buffet, and an hilarious chilli-eating competition with prizes. We also kickstarted our monthly Indian cinema night with the movie “Three Idiots”, one of the highest grossing films of all time in Bollywood.
This November we plan to celebrate Diwali in style, as well as Eid (a Muslim celebration), kabadi (India’s old national sport) and henna classes to which all are welcome.