South Asian Students Plan Pandemic-Era Diwali Celebration


Photo by Raag Venkat

The South Asian Student Association met on Friday, Nov. 13 during community time to celebrate Diwali and discuss its origins.

Payton Blalock

In a year where COVID-19 has affected nearly every school activity, Greenhill’s South Asian Student Association is working with administration to have a modified Diwali celebration despite pandemic restrictions.

In the past, parents of students who celebrate Diwali would have outfitted faculty members in Indian clothing as part of the campus celebration. That won’t happen this year.

“We’re still in the planning process, but we’re working on coordinating a presentation during community time next week,” senior Drewv Desai said.

In a normal year, the area between the history and English pods would be decorated with a display that gives Greenhill students who don’t celebrate Diwali a glimpse of what it is and how it’s celebrated. Past celebrations featured colorful and vibrant Diwali decorations such as rangolis made out of dyed powder or rice flour and books about the festival.

With campus COVID restrictions, the planned celebration has been greatly modified and limited.  Desai says he is unsure if the display will be put up because it takes a lot of people standing close together and touching the same things.

Despite not being able to have a typical celebration, the South Asian Student Association is working on coordinating a day where online and in-person students who celebrate Diwali can dress up in their traditional clothing.

For Hindus around the world, a holiday that normally entails parties and celebrations to ring in the new year will look very different.

“My family usually has a Diwali party where we invite other families that celebrate Diwali,” Desai said. “We do puja, which is praying, sparklers, light diyas (candles) and eat lots of Indian food.”

This year, his family isn’t able to have their party due to COVID, But the traditions like puja, eating Indian food and lighting diyas will still take place this year, just in smaller family groups, Desai said.