Sidwell Hosts Diwali Celebrations on Campus

Many members of the Sidwell Friends community celebrated Diwali on Oct. 24, an important festival to Hindus across the globe. 

Diwali — also known as Deepawali, which translates to “rows of lamps” — symbolizes the victory of good over evil, or light over darkness. The celebration lasts for five days and marks when the god Ram and his wife Sita, incarnations of the divine Vishnu and Laxmi, returned back to their kingdom from banishment after defeating the evil demon Ravana. 

Diwali is a time for joyful festivities, often including firecrackers, fireworks, sweets, new clothes, gifts, house cleaning and rangolis, colorful floor patterns created from powder that are made to welcome the blessings of the goddess Laxmi, who represents prosperity and purity. People often light lamps, called diyas, and turn on the lights in their households to represent the welcoming of light.

It is so crucial to pay attention to all of the holidays that members of the Sidwell community celebrate.

— Zoe Verma '23

According to senior and South Asian Student Association co-head Zoe Verma, Diwali celebrations at Sidwell emphasize the community’s diversity.

“It is so crucial to pay attention to all of the holidays that members of the Sidwell community celebrate because it promotes an understanding of these holidays and other cultures that we may not be so familiar with, in turn ensuring a sense of inclusivity in the community,” Verma wrote in an email.

Verma also shared how she celebrated Diwali outside of school. 

“Diwali is important to me because it is simply a time to spend with family and friends,” Verma wrote. “I spent time with my cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandfather on Diwali, and I went to Diwali parties and visited with friends,” she added. 

Verma also attended Garba, a Gujarati folk dance festival preceding Diwali.

Additionally, on Oct. 30, families from the Sidwell community who observe Diwali gathered on the Washington campus to celebrate together.

Monica Chopra Hukmani, a member of Parents of Asian Students, helped organize the event.

“We had a dedicated parents committee for this event, which included support from [the] PA and the school administration,” Hukmani said. “Families from [the] Lower, Middle [and] Upper Schools came together to share food, dance, music and art to build bonds and … showcase their cultural heritage,” she added. 

The on-campus gathering included traditional Kathak and Bollywood dances performed by seniors Zoe Verma and Asmi Pareek, Dholak drumming and stations where participants could read books about Diwali, receive Henna tattoos and enjoy rangoli artwork. 

“[A] very special part of Diwali is lighting diyas, so during the event, each family was given a diya to light and add on to the beautiful Diya installation done by an Upper School student, Nyla Ahmad,” Hukmani shared.