BAPS Campus Fellowships across North America held their Annual Diwali Celebration this Fall at 23 different university campuses. College-aged Kishores and Kishoris around North America took the time out of their schedules to organize the event. Invited faculty, staff and students from the surrounding community enjoyed a program encompassing the theme, “In the Joy of Others: Celebrating Timeless Traditions”.
It is important to keep satsang as a focal point during college because it helps students in many ways by staying connected to their culture simultaneously being away from home and providing a support system for education and friendship.
Students invited their friends and professors to the program to do aarti, thaal, and to celebrate Diwali. Many delegates arrived wearing traditional Indian clothing, and were welcomed in a traditional Hindu manner by applying a chandlo (red vermillion mark) to their forehead and tying a nada chhadi (red sacred thread) on their right wrists. This greeting set the mood of festivity and spirituality for the rest of the evening.
The student volunteers helped organize, decorate the venue, and hand-prepare over 900 food items for the Annakut, in order to give a glimpse of Indian culture and heritage at their respective campuses. Pooja Patel, a freshman majoring in biology, who had the opportunity to be involved in these preparations, said, “Diwali was something my parents celebrated and were really excited for, but that didn’t have the same significance for me. Being a part of this celebration really gave me a greater sense of pride in my culture.”
Using the motif of food, Swamis presented to attendees on how traditions are as timeless and borderless through the food we eat. While food is necessary to nourish our body and mind, in the same manner, spirituality is necessary to nourish our soul.
Shail Amin, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering said, “The Swami’s speech, showed me the value of sharing, the value of caring. I am proud that my Hindu faith has a very practical set of teachings that should guide my life.”
After the event, delegates enjoyed an authentic vegetarian Indian dinner provided by the local mandir along with the various dishes that were offered in the Annakut. The annual celebration allowed college students to experience a traditional Diwali on campus. With the inspiration of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS continues to inspire the next generation of youth in developing their character to achieve success and happiness, in their education, careers, family and spiritual life.
Yogi Patel, a sophomore majoring in Accounting, who took an active part in organizing the event said, “It was great seeing so many students around campus get together for a Diwali celebration. I enjoyed the event. I thank everyone especially the Swamis for coming over to guide and bless us."