Diwali is one of the most festive of all the festivities in India. The festival of lights signifies the joyous victory of good over evil and the enlightening of the world through within each person, home and family. It is typically a five-day celebration. Family as well as friends all come together for this exuberant occasion by sharing elaborate home cooked meals, lighting candles in small clay pots called “diyas” and decorating homes, shops and neighbourhoods with lights and rangolis (which are colourful patterns made on floors with coloured rice, flour and even petals). It reinforces the sense of community within the people as they step into the Hindu New Year, following soon after Diwali. It is said to bring good luck and fortune and I think we all need a little bit of that this year. So, we know how Diwali is celebrated in India but what is curious to know is how Indian students in Rotterdam celebrate Diwali
Riti Agarwal, a second year MISOC student at EUR, told us that she did nothing to celebrate Diwali the year prior when she was living in Rotterdam. However, she is currently in Qatar with her family and is looking forward to a “normal” Diwali.
"This year it’ll be like a normal Diwali for me because the situation here (in Qatar) is much better, and we are allowed to see each other. So of course, we will be having all the Diwali pujas and celebrations with friends and family!"
A recent graduate from IBA at EUR, Siddharth Shastry informed us that he too did not get the opportunity to celebrate Diwali last year as he was on an exchange. But he recalls that the year before that the Erasmus Indian Students’ Association, that he founded, hosted a Diwali celebration where not only Indians at Erasmus but students of all cultures gathered to celebrate the Hindu festival
"Usually Diwali celebrations involve people gathering together to enjoy good food and to have a great time, which is what we tried to capture through our event"
Lastly, Uday Mathur who is doing his Masters in Strategic Management at EUR, gave us an insight into the little things that make Diwali what it is.
"I really like this time of the year because you can see all the balconies and terraces covered with glowing lights and the whole sky lit up with colours. Of course, my Diwali nights are always followed by dressing up in our traditional 'kurta-pyjama' and playing Bollywood music to the maximum level."
Even though Uday admits to missing his family since he is in Rotterdam, he says that he has found a new family here as well. So, he is looking forward to meeting some of his friends and eating his heart out!
We at ISR also know how important food is to the festivities of many cultural occasions, and Diwali is no exception. Which is why we have organised a cooking challenge event where we can all come together virtually and enjoy a feeling of togetherness while eating some savoury delicious Indian cuisine.
ISR is celebrating Diwali this year, to unite and celebrate a culture in a foreign country despite the current unfavourable circumstances. So, wherever you are in the world right now and however you are planning to celebrate Diwali this year, we hope you have a grand time while staying safe and healthy. Happy Diwali!