Indian students hold Diwali Night celebration

HOUGHTON – Every year, India marks Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, with a massive five-day celebration.

At Michigan Technological University, Indian students and other community members can get a taste of the festivities with their own Diwali Night. This year’s event, put on by Tech’s Indian Students Association, was held Saturday, including a full Indian meal and a performance at the Rozsa Center.

The Rozsa program was headlined by the short play “My Big Fat Indian Wedding,” about a Michigan Technological University student who travels back to India over break and finds out his family has selected a bride for him.

The play was preceded by a dance and several musical numbers. Incorporated within the play were numerous dance scenes with the cast, as well as a show of Indian fashions. The wedding celebration was also used to explain some traditional Indian wedding customs.

ISA President Muraleekrishnan Menon is participating for his second year; this is the first time he’s helped organize.

“I think it was excellent,” he said. “That shows how confident our performers are onstage and how much the audience liked them.”

The program is the biggest annual event for the Indian Students Association, who put more than 10,000 man-hours into the event.

Menon hadn’t known the numbers until the group’s advisor showed him.

“It’s all fun for the performers,” he said. “They just come together every evening and say ‘We need to dance. We need to make our dance perfect. We need to sing this song’ … it’s all about getting together and having fun.”

Performers have also been able to make new friends through the performance, Menon said. The band also incorporated students from China and the U.S., while several of the dance performances included Americans.

“They come together in these group dances, and then during the practices they all get to know each other and share their culture,” Menon said.

Chris Young, a mechanical engineering freshman at Tech from Charlevoix, Mich. was invited by a teachers assistant from the physics lab, and also knows one of the participants.

“I’ve liked it so far,” he said during an intermission. “The food was phenomenal – not just because I’ve eaten dorm food for the past few months.”

The cultural concept of this year’s show made it the best Diwali Night celebration in years, said Pranav Chipde, a senior mechanical engineering major from Pune, India.

“The benefits would be for the students who are away from their homes, mostly, and spreading our culture all over the world for everyone,” he said.