• Ashley Torkornoo

Divali: A Cross-Cultural Experience


Dr. Kumar's Students Celebrate Divali Together

On this multicultural and multireligious campus, it is important to take the time to learn about and celebrate each other’s differences. During this semester, students of Dr. Pratibha Kumar’s global encounters course India through ‘Bollywood’ had the chance to do just that.


India through Bollywood is a Communications class that focuses on understanding the culture of India through Indian cinema (and other texts). “Basically, watching a lot of fun movies and then discussing them in the cultural context in class,” Therese Boegel (C’23) stated.


Students were invited to celebrate Divali with the members of the Indian Association of Frederick (IAF) Nov. 13. Divali, also spelled as Diwali, is a festival of light celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and most Indians of all religious backgrounds. The festival lasts around five days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika (between October and November). It is one of the most popular festivals of India and Hindus. The holiday symbolizes the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance."


“In class, we talked about how Divali is the autumnal festival of lights in the Hindu religious tradition. It celebrates the return of the legendary King Ram after 14 years of exile,” Boegel added. “We also learned that it was a multiday celebration with different traditions and forms of celebration on each day of the festival.”


Students that attended the event had the opportunity to wear traditional saree for women and kurta for men provided by Kumar. During the event, students enjoyed performances from local entertainers singing Bollywood and other popular songs. Students also enjoyed a buffet dinner and danced to a variety of different genres. Overall the night was lively and full of waves of laughter.


Boegel shared some of her major takeaways from her time: “From this course I have learned a lot about India as a country and Indian culture. I think I have a much deeper understanding of not only another culture and people but also of the human race as a whole. There are so many things that are beautifully different and so many that are the same.”


India through Bollywood will be offered every other fall (next one in fall 2023) for students who are interested in Indian culture and need to complete their global encounter’s requirement.