The percussion of Dhol drums echoed throughout NYU Abu Dhabi's Downtown Campus garden this past Thursday as the University community gathered to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. Everything from sky to ground was decorated in the spirit of celebration, from streamers of lights hanging overhead to an illustration of a bird vibrantly colored in tikka and flower petals spread out on the ground. Many students dressed in ornate saris and kurtas for the occasion and upon arrival, each visitor received a stroke of red tikka on his or her forehead as a sign of welcome.
The night opened with a series of student dance numbers including the Punjabi Bhangra dance, the Gujarati Dandiya dance, and well-loved Bollywood routines. Two Dhol drummers from Dubai impressed the audience with their dynamic beats, followed by vocal performances of two Hindi songs, "Yaaron Dosti" and "Hai Junoon."
NYUAD freshman Anna Serobyan participated in two Bollywood dances. "I didn't know what Diwali was until the first rehearsal. It was really interesting to represent another culture and I felt that I had to do the best I could."
After a meal of butter chicken curry, dal, vegetable korma, naan, and mango lassi, the stage was transformed into a dance floor for all the guests to join in the festivities. "Even the professors were dancing," said NYUAD sophomore Abhijai Garg, who was involved in the organization of the event. "Not all of us were able to go home and Diwali is one of our important festivals, so it was just like a feeling of home away from home."
"It's a really beautiful festival and a great opportunity to tell people what our culture is about," said NYUAD sophomore Bhavna Menon, also one of the main organizers of the event. "It's one night where you can let go and immerse yourself in the music, the lights, and the food."