Diwali sheds light on campus

by Tabitha Blaser, reporter

Simpson College’s Religious Life Community (RLC) brought in a night full of culture for the Hindu celebration, Diwali.

 On Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., students spent an hour in Dirlam Lounge dancing to Indian music, eating snacks and developing a new perspective.

RLC has been searching for ways that students can learn and celebrate different religious opportunities. Diwali was a perfect opportunity to engage students with another new cultural celebration.

Diwali is a popular Hindu holiday which emphasizes the importance and significance of light. Every year at the end of October, Diwali expresses the importance of light over darkness. With each new year, this theme is showcased through extravagant decorations, lighting and dancing to music through the night.

MacKenzie Bills, the interfaith intern for RLC, brought this event to Simpson College with hopes that students could learn the value of this special event.

 “Diwali celebrates light and rebirth and starting anew. [During Diwali] everything is centered on light. You are reflecting on who you were, the darkness, and your rebirth, the light,” Bills said.

Diwali is not only practiced through Hinduism, but is also practiced by other Indian-oriented religions such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

At the event on Tuesday night, students had the opportunity to experience Diwali practices. Students tasted new Indian treats, danced to Indian style music and some students even got henna tattoos. Bills was also present at the event to answer questions and explain Diwali traditions to students.

However, hosting this event on campus meant more to Bills than just getting free treats and dancing. She had a larger purpose in mind for this celebration. After Diwali, she hopes students will being to speak about and have their own interfaith discussions. There are many aspects of starting this interfaith journey.

“One of [the aspects] is teaching others about different religions. Then people can have knowledge about other religions and can start to talk about interfaith,” Bill stated

Bills hopes students will gain a new outlook and appreciation from the Diwali celebration.

“At Simpson, we are mostly white, mostly Christian and many have not experienced other religions. One of my jobs is to put on events that celebrate other religions so people understand what it’s about and what they do,” she said.

By bringing significant religious holidays on campus, like Diwali, students to get involved and can benefit from what they have learned.

“Further in life you might have a job and come across a point in time when you need to know about [Diwali]. With this newfound knowledge, you won’t offend others and you can have understanding of what other cultures are about,” Bills said.

The Diwali holiday is a time for celebrating. For this Hindu religion, it symbolizes a time to celebrate the light. For RLC, it is a time for students to celebrate new traditions and interfaith growth.