Miami University’s Indian Students Association (ISA) is hosting its 21st celebration of the Hindu holiday, Diwali. This year, the show is called “Keeping up with the Kapoors” and tells the story of “Americanized” Indians who are hesitant to visit India but end up falling in love with the culture. The celebration begins at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 and 2 p.m. Nov. 9 in Hall Auditorium.
Diwali is India’s largest national holiday and lasts for five days. This year, Diwali started on Nov. 2 in the U.S. and on Nov. 3 in India. The date differs year to year and depends on the cycle of the moon.
The word ‘Diwali’ derives from ‘rows of lighted lamps’ and has given the holiday the nickname “the Festival of Lights.” Those who celebrate the holiday decorate shops, houses and other public places with diyas, small oil lamps. Chair of the Diwali performance Rohan Nawani said Diwali is typically a happy time spent as a family.
“Indians typically get together with their families and exchange gifts and light fireworks. Diwali is as big as Christmas in India, it’s very fun and happy,” Nawani said.
For the past 20 years, Miami University has recognized and celebrated the Hindu festival and has recently done so with theatrical performances.
“Every year has a theme, last year was a parody called, ‘My Big Fat Indian Wedding,’ which showed a bunch of different dances that depicted different parts of India and how that part of the country celebrates,” Nawani said.
President of the ISA Kritheeka Kalathil said the performances have been a success.
“We usually have two showings of our Diwali performances each year in Hall Auditorium,” Kalathil said. “They both usually sell out. Hall seats around 750 I believe, so that’s about 1500 attendees each year.”
This year’s show will use a variety of media and performing art forms to tell the story of the fictional Kapoor family.
“It’s a mixture of dances incorporated with on-stage acting and video,” Nawani said. “It’s like you’re watching a movie on stage.”
ISA member Vaidehi Joshi said there is a large participation in the show.
“There are about 150 members on the listserv, about 80 to 90 active and 60 who partake in the Diwali show.”
ISA is a constantly growing organization on campus. Right now, the club has grown from 240 members last year to roughly 300 members today, according to Nawani.
“It’s a common misconception that all our members are Indian,” Kalathil said. “Our club isn’t only for Indian students. We actually have a lot of non-Indian members. Almost have the Diwali participants aren’t actually Indian. Our goal as an organization is to educate other about Indian culture.”