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Celebrations of Light

“Diwali & Eid Celebrations” was the topic of the Week Nine (Nov. 9) Community Reflection in Stetson Chapel. Sponsored by K Desi and the Chapel Program, this Reflection sought to inform the campus community about the origins and customs of the holidays celebrated by Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs this time of year.

Kalamazoo College students helping the campus community celebrate Diwali and Eid were (top row, l-r) Swapna Gudipati ’13, Utsav Adhikari ’14, Faiza Fayyaz ’13, Karan Kapoor ’14 (bottom row), Kinza Tareen ’13, Jyotika Singh ’13, and Sukhvir Kaur ’13.

Utsav Adhikari ’14 and Karan Kapoor ’14 lit a candle and rang a ceremonial bell while Swapna Gudipati ’13 recited the Lakshmi Puja prayer, which, she said, is typical of Diwali celebrations in Hindu culture. “In India, we celebrate Diwali by lighting candles, or diyas, around the house,” she said. “It is thought that when the light comes from the diyas, that the evil and darkness goes away.”

Kapoor recalled some of his memories of the “festival of lights,” which occurred this year between Nov. 13 and 17. “It’s a lot like Christmas, but we don’t have Santa Claus,” he said. Adhikari recalled celebrations of a similar holiday, Tihar, in his native Nepal. Sukhvir Kaur ’13 and Jyotika Singh ’13 spoke about a religious time for Sikhs called Bandi Chhor Divas that occurs around the same time as Diwali. Kaur said it is less of a holiday, and more of a day of reflection. “Sihks do not ’celebrate holidays,’” she said, “rather, they pay homage.” Singh translated a Sikh poem about enlightenment.

Faiza Fayyaz ’13 and Kinza Tareen ’13 described Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that occurred on Oct. 26 this year. Tareen spoke about the customs associated with the holiday, like sharing meat from a sacrificial animal, in thirds, between family, friends and neighbors, and the needy “in the spirit of Eid.” After the reflection, students gathered on the chapel steps to light sparklers.

Community Reflection offers a unique forum for discussion, worship, performance, and community expression each Friday at 10:50 AM (refreshments at 10:30) in Stetson Chapel. The entire campus community and general public are invited. The Week 10 (Nov. 16) the last Reflection of the Fall 2012 Quarter will be a “Thanksgiving Sing-a-Long,” in which the Student Chaplains offer a musical reflection on Thanksgiving, and gratitude for our role in preserving and establishing community in our lives.

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