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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

Festival of lights: Celebrating diversity within Diwali

Sophomore+Sravya+Guda+stands+outside+in+a+saree%2C+lighting+a+firecracker+at+nighttime.
Sravya Reddy Guda
Sophomore Sravya Guda lights up a firecracker to enjoy Diwali, best known as the festival of lights. Guda participates in Diwali every year with her family and friends. “Ways of celebrating [Diwali] include lighting up lanterns and celebrating with firecrackers,” Guda said. “We put the [Christmas lights] up early and we’ll do a golden setting because it fits with the [Diwali] mood.”

Once a year, the dark sky fills with the sound of laughter and the popping of firecrackers as family and friends come together to shine up the night with sparkling lights and indulge in a feast. The tradition, practiced by over one billion people worldwide, is known as Diwali.  

Diwali is a part of a religious Hindu tradition where people celebrate the triumph of light over darkness — in other words, good over evil. Ways of celebrating include lighting up homes with candles, lamps and fireworks while wearing traditional attire and making classic food for loved ones to enjoy. 

“For the celebration, we had friends over [at my house] and then I went to [a friend’s] house. That was super fun,” sophomore Sravya Guda said. “When it starts to get dark, we get firecrackers and light [them] up.” 

Diwali is one of the most well-known Indian holidays in the Western world, with the holiday even being recognized as a public holiday in New York City

“[Diwali is] one of the big Indian holidays that’s westernized, [but] we treat it as something religious,” Guda said. “It’s a one-day festival but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff regarding religion happening throughout the month.”

The roots of Diwali go back all the way to the year 527 B.C., rejoicing in the destruction of the demon Narakasura. Preparations for the holiday include shopping, gift-giving and home decorating. This year, the festival of lights fell on Nov. 12. This year, some Diwali celebrations in the Parkway West community included those who were not Hindu and do not traditionally practice the holiday. 

“I don’t usually go out for Diwali so [it] was fun seeing other people that are not Hindus immersed in the culture,” Guda said. “They were [appreciative of] the food and the culture.”

For students at West, Diwali became a celebration between friends and an opportunity for many non-Indians to be included in the festivities. As information spread about Diwali, peers reached a deeper level of understanding with each other.

“It was really [awesome because] everybody was really happy and just having a fun time together,” junior Rachel Brazier said. “There were a lot of people that weren’t [Indian] who were invited. It was cool to see us all come together for this holiday that we’re not normally used to.”

The inclusion of various people brought light to the holiday and brought a broader understanding of  Indian culture. The welcoming atmosphere ignited feelings of joy and a sense of belonging. 

“I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t fit in, but as time went on through the party, I realized that the culture is very accepting. It made me feel really happy [to be] truly included in the celebration,” freshman Adam Thomas said. 

Friends celebrated together in ways that could be enjoyed without being directly part of the religious practice, like praying and participating in sacred rituals. In Diwali, lights ward off spiritual darkness, which calls for a party of bright illuminations.

“I liked hanging out with friends, trying new food and celebrations with the fireworks,” Thomas said. “We had handheld sparklers [and] Roman candles. It was a big celebration and it was really colorful.”

With the introduction of a new perspective, the knowledge of Diwali was spread more among friends. The interflow of cultures at Parkway West allowed for exposure to events that connect the community.

“More religions and holidays should be shared and spread,” Guda said. “There [are] so many different cultures in India [because it] is so big. It’s good to learn more even if you’re not a part of them.”

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About the Contributors
Keira Lang, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 10 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black, "Heartless" by Marissa Meyer and "Harry Potter." Who is your hero? Me, myself and I. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Fried Rice.
Zoya Hasan, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 10 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? I don't have one. Who is your hero? My brother because he has the positive mentality I hope to have, too. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Katie's Pizza Pasta's Lemon Paccere (or something like that; it's absolutely heavenly).
Sravya Reddy Guda, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 10 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? Any Dystopian series! Who is your hero? My mom. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Biriyani, an Indian Food :)
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  • W

    Will GonsiorDec 4, 2023 at 12:40 pm

    DREAM TEAM
    SRAVYA
    THIS IS AWESOME
    WE LIKE THAT

    Reply