NYUAD Celebrates Festival of Lights

The NYU Abu Dhabi community joined students from India in celebrating one of the largest Indian festivals of the year — Diwali, or the Festival of ...

The NYU Abu Dhabi community joined students from India in celebrating one of the largest Indian festivals of the year — Diwali, or the Festival of Lights — on Nov. 7 at the Downtown Campus gardens.
Mitali Banerji, a freshman from India, commented on her impression of the Abu Dhabi version of the festival and compared it to how she celebrates in India with her friends and family.
“Diwali for me has always been a special event because it meant that my entire family would be together, and this happens very rarely,“ said Banerji. “In India, it's called the Festival of Lights because there are so many lamps and fireworks everywhere. We usually perform a religious ceremony which honors the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, to bring prosperity to the household.“
Banerji said that the atmosphere of Diwali was authentic, even though it was celebrated far from home by people unfamiliar with the festival.
“The celebration at DTC was very close to the atmosphere I see at home,” said Bernji.
“Everyone was so enthusiastic, especially during the dancing. I love how non-Indians were so keen to help out and participate in the event. It made the festival all the more special because it felt like I was celebrating with an extended family rather than my classmates."
Banerji mentioned that the colorful powder being dabbed on people’s foreheads is an integral part of the festival.
“I really enjoy making rangoli, the art using colored powders [that are put on people’s foreheads], and lighting lamps which we call diyas,” she said. “[This festival] celebrates the triumph of good over evil.”
Dhia Fani, a freshman from Indonesia, celebrated Diwali for the first time this year.
“Before the festival, I was aware that there was a festival in India which is called Diwali, but I was not aware of the details,” she said. “This year’s celebration showed me the essence of the festival and what it really commemorates.”
Photo by Toh Kerai/The Gazelle
Photo by Toh Kerai/The Gazelle
Fani enjoyed the atmosphere of the event.
“The atmosphere was more than nice, and the [welcome] was very nicely organized,” said Fani. “On the other hand, the peacock drawings on the ground could have been more emphasized. A lot of people did not notice them and tripped over them.“
Rene Kukk, a freshman from Estonia, was impressed by the spicy food and the traditional dances.
“The highlight of the festival was [the] food, definitely,” said Kukk. “I enjoyed it very much. Everything reminded me of India and the food there.”
Kukk appreciated the way in which Diwali educated students about Indian culture.
“The festival is a great way of informing other people and other students about ... Indian culture and the ways of celebrating their very important festivals, such as Diwali,” said Kukk.
Kukk looked forward to celebrations of other cultures.
“At the end of the day, people from other cultures should do the same … [and represent] their culture in an interactive way, like the Diwali [celebration has] done,” she said. “Here we have an incredibly diverse student body, and Diwali was just one way of sharing our different cultures.”
Emina Osmandžiković is a contributing writer. Email her at
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