Photo by Genevieve Humphreys
This past Saturday, the Trinity community gathered in Laurie Auditorium for the South Asian Student Association’s (SASA) annual celebration of Diwali, one of the major festivals of many major religions common in South Asia. Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
“In India and other places around the world that celebrate Diwali, it brings the community together and in some ways, it’s a Hindu-Sikh-Jain version of Christmas. It brings people together in a lot of the same ways,” said sophomore and SASA secretary Jahnavi Nikkam.
While many different cultural groups in South Asia celebrate Diwali, Nikkam explained the Hindu story behind the holiday. According to this story, King Rama’s wife, Sita, is captured by an evil king in a neighboring area. Rama eventually travels to rescue Sita and kill the evil king. As the two triumphantly return to their city, millions of lights are spread out to welcome them back.
Each year, the Trinity festival takes on a different theme to bring something new to the celebration. With past themes ranging from religious stories to Bollywood around the world, this year brought together Diwali and The Bachelor. This theme laid the foundation for choreography of the many dance numbers and the story that flowed through the performance.
“We try to make it like you’re watching a Bollywood movie where there’s a dance every ten minutes with some acting in between to move the story along,” said Natasha Muppala, a senior and current president of SASA.
A lot of work went into making the performance, starting in early July when officers of SASA began planning the event. Once school began, they then reached out to the other groups on campus that are involved in the event, such as Loon-E Crew, Prowlers, Top Naach and the Filipino Student Association.
“From writing the script of the show to reaching out to choreographers and dance groups on campus to designing flyers, T-shirts and graphics to advertising and marketing the show to everyone on campus. There’s a lot that goes into putting on a show this big,” said senior and PR chair Nayal Lalani.
All the work SASA puts in pays off once the performance begins. Diwali is all about celebrating with loved ones, and the event at Trinity captures that spirit. Apart from other students, the friends and families of SASA members come to the event to partake in the festivities, which highlights the goal of the event: community.
“My favorite part of the event was definitely after all of the performances when everyone was eating and we had sparklers,” Nikkam said. “It was nice to be around everyone and to see the community coming together to have a good time. It was very wholesome.”
Some members of SASA have been working on Diwali their entire time at Trinity, the event becoming a significant part of their experience.
“I’ve done it every year since my freshman year, it is a big part of my culture that I want the rest of the campus to experience in the way I do at home,” said Akila Gopalkrishnan, senior and vice president of SASA.
The SASA officers wanted the event to stay community-oriented as, for many of the officers, that was what drew them to SASA in the first place.
“I have always enjoyed being able to be surrounded by others that not only share my culture but are proud of it too,” SASA treasurer and sophomore Meghan Muppala said.
Trinity is home to multiple student organizations that center around specific cultures, and events like Diwali help these organizations to showcase diversity through celebrating their traditions.