UT community celebrates coming home during Diwali

Jackson Barton

For Hindus, Diwali is an annual celebration of good conquering evil in the epic “Ramayana.” In the epic’s climax, Rama defeats the demon king Ravana and returns home. The story can be interpreted as light’s victory over darkness, said Ganesh Chittari, biology and French sophomore.

“That’s one of the reasons fireworks and sparklers are used,” Chittari said. “Since it’s done throughout the night, it illuminates the darkness.”

The annual Diwali celebration, hosted by the Hindu Students Association, lit up the Main Mall on Wednesday evening. The event was open to all students regardless of faith and included education booths, food and sparklers.

The event began with Homam Pooja, where about 40 Hindu and non-Hindu students removed their shoes and sat on the ground in front of the Tower. They prayed to the Hindu god Ganesha to remove obstacles in their lives and Lakshmi for knowledge. The prayer concluded with “Havana,” an offering tossed into a communal fire, symbolizing how all of their possessions belong to their gods.

Government freshman Abby Gammon, who is not Hindu, was convinced to attend by her Hindu roommate. Despite being unable to understand the spoken prayer itself, Gammon said the experience helped her understand what her roommate has been talking about.

“It’s important that we understand that there are other cultures and other religions other than what we believe and if we can’t respect those … then you can’t understand others,” Gammon said.

Editor’s Note: A source has been removed from this story due to extenuating personal circumstances.