At 8 PM, we started celebrating Diwali by holding a short puja or prayer service in which offerings were made to the Hindu idols Ganesh, Sarwasati, Krishna, and Shiva. After, we described the significance and origin of Diwali as an introduction for students that were unfamiliar with the festival. Lastly, as a group we sang “Om Jai Jagadesh” while giving our prayers to the idols and asking for their blessings. After the prayer service was completed, we served free Indian food and spent time talking with our friends, classmates, and other Georgetown community members. By the completion of the night, we put on popular Hindi music and danced for the rest of the event.
Personally, among all the events that the Hindu Students Association holds I enjoy celebrating Diwali the most because it portrays how open and respectful Georgetown students and community members are when celebrating a primarily Hindu festival. As I waited by the table with idols and watched as both Hindu and non-Hindu students prayed and asked for blessings from the Gods and Goddesses, I truly appreciated when students asked me to show them how to offer their prayers, the significance of each step of the rituals, and their overall interest in taking part of a religion that may have been completely new to them.
Diwali is a wonderful example of the goal of Georgetown’s challenge because it brings together not only religions outside of Hinduism such as Jainism and Sikhism, but it also encompasses a universal message of goodness prevailing over evil which all faiths can relate to. Ultimately if everyone followed the underlying message of lightness pervading over darkness, the world would be a wonderful place to live in.