Student-Organized Diwali Function Lights Up in Celebration

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  • The spread in the front of the room held diyas, flowers, string lights, art, and chalices. The table at the front really brought the lights and attention to the student-led Diwali function. The decorations brought light into the room, and the art was a stunning addition. With the pooja altar being the first thing the attendees saw, it was such a beautiful piece to start the night out with.

  • The food at the Diwali event was an incredible addition to the Indian culture there. The food was free to all who attended, and there was such an array to choose from. The dishes were brought by the two main hosts, Anchal Yadav 25′ and Angana Dahal 25′. They really brought the event together, and the food helped get the party started.

  • Two freshman attendees pose for pictures in front of the cafeteria stage. They had both dressed up in traditional Indian dress, and decorated themselves in beautiful gold jewelry. This gold aesthetic really helped add to the vibrance of the event.

  • The decorations at the Diwali event were vibrant, bright, and fiery. The flowers on the tables were red and gold, and came with green leaves and gold berries. The diya seen in the bottom of the photo held real fire, which helped brighten and bring life to the event, along with the other decorations.

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The Diwali Celebration held by Westwood students in the cafeteria on Tuesday, Nov. 9 was a fascinating, fun event full of food and dance. There were lights strung across the stage, gold streamers strung from one of the doorways, and a beautiful diya display. The students had also created intricate sand rangoli in the center and left-hand side of the cafeteria. There was a table full of traditional Indian dishes, and everyone was invited to help themselves.

The majority of students that attended were Indian in ethnicity, though there were some outliers. Some students even decided to wear traditional clothing. The women’s dress was very intricate, with gold lacing, gold tassels, and stunning dark green fabric. Other students wore similar clothing but in different colors, such as light pink and tan. They wore beads, and silver and gold jewelry. More of the female students decided to dress in this traditional Indian style, but there were a few male students as well.

About halfway through the celebration, there was an announcement for the beginning of the dance. Everyone attending began to gather in the center of the open space and perform unique Indian dances, all in continuous circles. They moved in waves, all keeping time and all-knowing where to place their feet. But the dancing and the lights aren’t all there is to the holiday.

“According to mythology, in most parts of India, it’s [about] Lord Rama, [who] comes back home after 14 years of exile,” Kriya Handa ‘25 said. “But every region in India has its own version of it. And they have different traditions and ways of celebrating Diwali.”

In India, the holiday looks much different, with a lot more people and a lot more celebrating. 

“It’s a huge social event. I’ve been to a lot of parties with my non-school friends, and even in-school friends. I’ve been to a lot of Diwali parties,” Handa said. “It’s all about getting together, doing fireworks, and having a good time. And if you’re in India, people are closer there, because there are so many people. So it’s easier to have huge parties.”

But, as expected, the tradition has changed ever since Indians brought it over to America.

“If you were in India, you would go out in the streets, and you would just do it. And people would come because they know what it is. But here, it’s not like that. Everyone doesn’t know about Diwali. So here, you have to adjust by actually calling people,” Handa said. “People aren’t [as] open.”

The event hosted more than 40 people in the cafeteria. It was the first time that the student hosts arranged an event in the school year.

“The Diwali event was really successful because it was our first event in the school. And I was happy with the turnout,” host Anchal Yadav ‘25 said. “And most people don’t even know what Diwali is. So that was good.”

The event’s two hosts, Yadav and Angana Dahal ‘25, teamed up with a teacher sponsor, who was friends with the students, to hold the celebration.

“We had Mrs. Kantawala, our Advanced Bio teacher. She really helped us [out] a lot. She loved the food,” Yadav said.

Overall, the event was a wonderfully lit, joyous occasion, and even though the number of participants could have been higher, the spirit was there. The bright holiday of Diwali was a sight to behold, and the event happening in the first place is a prime example of the passionate cultural influence of students that attend Westwood. This Diwali function is a fantastic illustration of the individual diversity, ethnicities, and religions of each student.