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Victory, Freedom, Radiance: Happy Diwali 2022

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated worldwide each year to symbolize "victory of light over darkness."

Suhnandany Goswami, Vice President of Graduate Affairs, MSVUSU

My name is Suhnandany Goswami, also known as G and Su by folks here in Canada. My pronouns are she/her, and I am enrolled in the Master’s of Science in Applied Human Nutrition program at the Mount. When I started my degree in the fall of 2021, I was still in India. I moved to Halifax from my mother land in February 2022. Now, I serve as Vice President Graduate Affairs for the MSVU Student's Union; I am dedicated to enhancing the Mount’s student experience.

I was excited to join a university that celebrates different cultures across many countries that are represented at this small, but mighty campus. According to the Mount’s demographic breakdown on its website, 61 countries were represented at the Mount in 2020-21, with 21 per cent of them coming from India, the second largest county in the world. That makes celebrating Diwali imperative, as it means celebrating Indian culture and heritage.

Diwali is my favorite festival. It is a festival of lights and laughter. In Indian culture, it celebrates the triumph of good over evil. When I was a little girl, my grandma used to tell me heroic stories associated with Diwali. I remember her telling me that Diwali is celebrated in honour of Lord Ram Chandra because, on this day, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. During this voluntary exile, he fought with demons and the demon king Ravana, the powerful ruler of Lanka. To honor Rama's victory and welcome him back, the citizens of Ayodhya lit diyas (small handmade oil lamps). This celebration of good triumphing over evil has been a tradition since then.

In my community, most Diwali rituals are performed in the evening. We decorate the house with lights and colors, wear new clothes, courtyards are decorated with rangoli (a traditional art form), and oil lamps bring the vibrant rangoli to life. We light diyas at every corner of the house as well as on the streets. Families and friends forget all their disputes and visit each other with hearts full of joy, exchanging sweets and best wishes. Then we worship Maa Laxmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) with the entire family. Thereafter, we burn firecrackers (I have always been a forced audience for that, but it's fun to watch children having fun). Everything finishes up around 2 am, but this end always feels like a new beginning.

Yesterday I hosted a Diwali celebration in The Rook. Everyone who attended enjoyed an authentic Indian meal, played some fun trivia, and gathered. This was a good opportunity to get a taste from India and explore India’s culture. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Happy Diwali!


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