MISSION AND MINISTRY | The Malone Student Center was lit up and redolent with the fragrances of southern Indian cuisine on the evening of Oct. 20, as students, staff and faculty members celebrated Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Diwali marks the transition from darkness to the light that empowers observers to commit to good deeds.
In a traditional celebration of Diwali, incense wafts through the air and mingles with the sounds of firecrackers, attesting to a sense of joy, togetherness and hope. Diwali is a time when people clean, cook, buy new items for the home, dress in traditional outfits, decorate the house with lights and marigold flowers, and ready themselves for prayer.
Sharmila Narayan, an accountant in the Office of the Controller and a participant in LMU’s Companions in Mission program, helped to organize this year’s event and recalled its origins in a conversation with Susan Abraham, associate professor in the Department of Theological Studies:
Dr. Susan and I started talking, and she mentioned that there are a few Indian professors and staff on campus. So, we got together and started talking about our culture and food — everyone’s favorite topic. Since our meeting was so close to Diwali we thought why not hold a Diwali event for our Indian Asian community? I was appointed to lead it, and we were introduced to Abbie Robinson-Armstrong, who helped fund the event. We worked with Jade Smith and her staff, Arnab Banerji, and my colleague Gunita Chopra. The students enjoyed it so much; they felt at home because everyone was so warm and welcoming, and they appreciated having Diwali on campus.
The first event was such a success that Sharmila and her colleagues, with support from Student Affairs, brought Diwali back to the bluff this year. If you missed the festivities, be sure to keep an eye out next fall for the lanterns, candles, and sparklers that mark the return of Diwali to LMU.