Diwali Celebrations at UT Austin

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Diwali at UT Austin 2014

 By Namita Pallod

AUSTIN: On October 23, students of The University of Texas at Austin gathered together in front of the renowned UT tower to celebrate Diwali. This event was put on by Hindu Students Association, with sophomores Namita Pallod and Bharath Lavendra leading the charge. Preparation for the event began in May. When asked about the goal of this event, Bharath Lavendra explained “Our motivation from the start was to really bring the spirit of Diwali to campus, by bringing together the Austin community to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and instilling a sense of togetherness.”

This year, the program began with an interactive yagna led by Girish Chaitanyaji. As students entered the yagna, they were marked with a red tikka and then were given individual aarti plates, adding a very homely feel to this university celebration.

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UT students enjoying Diwali

At the same time, main mall was buzzing with the activity stemming from the booths. Students strolled through Main Mall, enjoying the celebrations by partaking in different booths, which ranged from candle-making to rangoli designs. Out of all of these, the mehendi line could be seen snaking throughout Main Mall as students eagerly awaited for a mehendi design.

The yagna was followed up by a performance segment by UT students.The segment started off with a bang with Dirty South Dandiya, and was also fueled by classical artists Priya Gupta and Preethi Menon. The performances left the audience members clapping with shouts for encores.

The night was topped off with a magnificent four minute firework show. The fireworks were shot straight from the UT tower, and captivated the audience immediately. These fireworks serve as the trademark of Diwali at UT, since the only other time fireworks occur on campus are at University Commencement.

HSA has been hosting diwali on campus for many years, and all events are open to the entire Austin community. It was attended by students of all faiths and colors, as well as many non-UT students. Tiffany Yung said “I was drawn to the event by all the lights and the sound of the festivities, and it ended up being the best night of my semester!” This year marked a new height however, with unprecedented attendance of over 800 people. Aneesh Angirekula, president of HSA, noted “Students from all over the 40 acres can appreciate and enjoy the fireworks, much like how every student can appreciate the theme of Diwali: victory of good over evil.”