Luther celebrates Diwali, the celebration of light


Students painting Diya during the Diwali celebration. Photo Courtesy of Korpo M. Selay

On Tuesday, November 4, the Center for Intercultural Engagement and Support (CIES) sponsored a Diwali celebration, which took place at Baker Commons. The evening consisted of activities like Pooja, Henna, Diya Painting, traditional dances from India, and eating snacks. 


Pratiksha Gautam (‘24), one of the students involved in organizing the event, began by welcoming everyone. Gautam talked to the crowd about what Diwali means, and the importance of the celebration. 


“Diwali is the celebration of light and the victory of good over evil in Hinduism,” Gautam said. “The celebration opens a door for possibilities, hope, and beliefs.” 


An essential part of the celebration was Pooja. Luther community members were invited to participate in this worship and prayer session. While some people were worshiping alone, the rest of the attendees sang along and played musical instruments. This music was to get the attention of the good forces in the world and invite them to join the event. 


Director of CIES Wintlett Taylor-Browne also spoke about celebrating Diwali on campus. She mentioned that the festival is vital to the people who practice Hinduism. As part of CIES’ role in promoting intercultural engagement on campus, Taylor-Browne believes the event was a great opportunity to promote sharing of different cultural backgrounds.. 


“I hope that people who attend the event will leave with an understanding of what the festival means to Hindus,” Taylor-Browne said. “We want to celebrate and educate people during the celebration. We hope people participate in the different activities and keep an open mind.”


One of the students attending was Punk Zupfer (‘26). She attended the event after being invited by a friend and was curious to know more about Diwali. 


“I think students should attend such events as it allows them to be familiar with cultures different from theirs,” Zupfer said. “I learned new things about traditional Indian dances and how people worship during a Diwali celebration.” 


Throughout the celebration, Gautam emphasized what it meant to members of the Hindu community on campus for people to attend. For Gautam, the Diwali events on campus served as a representation of the diversity events that Luther College offers.


“For members of the community like myself who would normally celebrate with their families and couldn’t this year, celebrating the festival on campus means they can feel at home,” Gautam said. “Luther is our home now.”