Diwali celebration

The Hindu Society, with the Global Lounge, bring you a warm and welcoming virtual celebration of Diwali

Wednesday 11 November

Diwali, commonly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, lasts between 4 to 5 days and, like Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, follows the ‘lunar calendar’ meaning that the date changes each year.

Namaste

Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’

This year, the Bristol Hindu Society celebrated Diwali with a virtual event which was open to all, introducing the festival to those who may not know much about it, whilst allowing those who would normally celebrate with family and loved ones the opportunity to come together and celebrate online. Akash, president of the Bristol Hindu Society, introduced the event, kicking things off with a beautiful Aarti – a type of prayer which the society typically start their events off with.

Akash went onto explain that while there may be many possible origins of Diwali, the core essence remains the same: ‘the victory of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance,’ going on to say that it is also not a festival ‘limited only to Hinduism and Hindus’ but that ‘Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’

Some typical features of celebrating Diwali include:

  • lighting diyas – an oil lamp usually made from clay
  • fireworks – to guide the spirits of ancestors
  • rangolis – patterns made of coloured sand or crushed flowers to beautify the house and a sign to welcome visitors

‘Who needs measuring spoons when you have your hands!’

After the introduction to Diwali students talked about how it’s felt not being able to celebrate with loved ones at home this year, and shared with each other how they were celebrating Diwali during lockdown, which included dinner with housemates, Bollywood music and movies, and eating / making homemade sweets!

Students also shared with each other how they would usually celebrate with family – with a large focus on food, including an insight into Indian cooking and a mother’s tip when it comes to recipes: “Who needs measuring spoons when you have hands!”

The community-feeling really shone through during these conversations and even for those who don’t celebrate Diwali, it was a wonderful insight into this annual celebration.

‘Wear Indian clothes just to get into the feel of it. At Christmas people wear Christmas jumpers, so in the same way, wear some Indian clothing to get in the mood.’

Students ended the event by giving tips on how you can celebrate Diwali at home, including:

  • watching popular Indian movies (Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum is recommended!)
  • buying or making homemade sweets
  • lighting sparklers
  • celebrating virtually with family and loved-ones
  • having a go at cooking Indian food that you would normally have with family – or – treating yourself and ordering online
  • wearing some traditional Indian clothing to get you into the mood and playing some music
  • using candles or fairy lights to decorate your spaces at home

Check out the full event here, and be inspired to make Diwali just as special this year – where ever you are!

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Day of the Dead

The Mexican Culture Society and Global Lounge celebrate Day of the Dead
Monday 2 November

What is Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday where family and friends gather to remember those close to them who have died.

The Mexican Culture Society explored and celebrated this annual festivity with The Global Lounge, with guest speakers delivering live and interactive presentations from both the UK and Mexico, explaining what happens during this annual festivity!

Although celebrations couldn’t take place in-person, the Mexican Culture Society planned a full programme of events to mark this important holiday, which honours and celebrates the deceased.

Speakers introduced the festivity and its importance in Mexican culture, including how it’s celebrated in the capital of Mexico, Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco) as well as El Xantolo in the Huasteca region. Speakers shared their experience of living in these parts of Mexico and what you can expect to experience during the Day of the Dead celebrations – which lasts several days – including music, shrines, and the cemetery! Also explained was one of most recognisable symbols of The Day of the Dead celebrations – a tall female skeleton wearing a hat with feathers – La Catrina, who was borne from illustrator José Guadalupe Posada.

Let’s talk about food!

Attendees got to find out about popular food, Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) and the significance of its shape and structure – find out how to make ‘Bread of the Dead’ by heading to the Mexican Culture Society’s video on YouTube!

They also talked about a traditional mesoamerican dish, made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf – tamales! Not only available as a savoury and spicy food – but also sweet – this is a popular Mexican food with big cultural importance. Tamales, or ‘tamal’ in Spanish, are even mentioned in proverbs and phrases – ‘whenever something goes wrong, eat tamal. Whenever something goes fine, eat it as well’.

Like the sound of tamales? Have a go at making your own!

The event ended with an explanation of Calaveritas Literarias – short verses written in the form of epitaphs to mock celebrities, politicians, friends and family members! These rhymes or phrases – which were once banned – are popular in Mexico around October and November during Day of the Dead celebrations.

See the full event below, and discover more about this fascinating festivity.

The programme of events:

00:00 – 02:00 – Welcome from the Global Lounge
02:01 – 08:44 – Introduction to the festivity
08:45 – 22:35 – Celebrations in Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco)
24:15 – 41:07 – El Xantolo
42:03 – 50:22 – La Catrina
52:10 – 1:02:21 – Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)
1:02:22 – 1:12:46 – Tamales
1:15:45 –1:21:33 – Calaveritas Literarias
1:25:02 – Event end

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Global Carnival 2020

An evening of entertainment and activities from across the globe for students and staff!

On Wednesday 11 March, over two hundred students and staff gathered to enjoy an annual showcase of dance and music performances, organised by the Global Lounge in collaboration with Bristol Students’ Union and International Students’ Network.

Trying something new

There was something for everyone to enjoy with a range of craft and activity stalls followed by a diverse programme of performances from across the globe.

Visitors could try their hand at origami making, solve Palestinian folklore riddles and see beautiful examples of traditional outfits from the Friends of Palestine society. There were also Lebanese food samples to taste and food samples and games from the Mexican Culture Society. The delicious vegan Thai curry was a hit – served to all guests as part of the festivities!

Fantastic performances

Lion dance

The show started off with the Lion Dance Troop who made a spectacular entrance into the Anson Rooms, getting up close to the seated audience.

The all-male group, Academy A Capella, impressed everyone with their rendition of Toxic by Britney Spears. They reached the UK finals last year and are focusing their efforts on releasing a debut album.

Siddarth Sreekanth performing Indian drumming

First-year Economics and Politics student Siddarth Sreekanth kept things upbeat with some fantastic Indian drumming. Originally from Bangalore, he performed on an instrument called the Mridangam (muh-ruh-dang-um), which is a percussion instrument used in Carnatic Music, which is a form of Indian classical music.

Gospel choir

Changing things up, the next act on stage was a collaboration between PakSoc and BanglaSoc – a fashion show which gave the audience a taste of their culture’s traditional clothing combined with popular music straight from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The lively performance featured beautiful outfits such as shalwar kamiz, longi and shervani with the models showing off the outfits whilst making fun poses and dancing along to their favourite songs!

The Gospel Choir were up next – a group of individuals who enjoy singing and praising God together. Their beautiful vocals and harmonies impressed all who were in the room.

Hosts, Roy and Lara broke things up with an interactive quiz, asking members of the audience to tell everyone what things they like about their own culture and also what they enjoy about others. There was great participation with many raising their hands to give their answers – most of which revolved around food!

The evening was rounded off with a Qawwali performance, which uses semi-classical Asian singing techniques and rhythmic clapping. This group is the UK’s first university-born qawwali group, called Virsa Qawwali.

 

 

A Glimpse into the World of Indian Dance

University of Bristol staff and students came together for the first big Global Lounge event of 2020; a Glimpse into the World of Indian Dance.

Attendees enjoyed classical dance performances and a delicious meal, organised by the Global Lounge in collaboration with students Aditya Sharma and Deepa Lakshmi.

Showtime

Just under 200 people attended the Indian dance event, held in Anson Rooms in the Richmond Building on Thursday 6 Febraury. A free delicious, authentic Indian meal and refreshments were provided after the show which many stayed on to enjoy whilst socialising and chatting to the performers.

Aditya and Deepa showcased two very distinct and popular forms of Indian dance: Kathak and Bharatanatyam. Their performances were accompanied by their stories, which explained each dance and its cultural significance, presenting a modern, fresh and personal take on the traditional roots of Indian choreography.

Meet Deepa and Aditya

Aditya Sharma approached the Global Lounge to hold this event and, along with Deepa Lakshmi, curated their performances especially for the Global Lounge, putting much time and effort into the event.

Aditya Sharma is a senior Kathak dancer with eight years of experience. He is the founder and artistic director of Yatra Dance productions, a classical dance choreography unit in Bangalore. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in Management (Marketing).

Deepa Lakshmi is a senior Bharatanatyam artist from Chennai. She has been training in the discipline since the age of four and has received many accolades. Deepa is currently pursuing a Master’s in Law.

The elaborate performances and beautiful outfits made it an immersive and entertaining experience for the audience. The dancers carefully curated their technique and style to showcase the art form in a modern and exciting way, while maintaining the roots and traditions of the choreography, music and performances.

Speaking of the success of the event, Deepa and Aditya said:

“We did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous; thinking, how are [the audience] going to bounce back to us, would they be able to relate to it – we didn’t know whether they would know the history about it or not. But it just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it. If you have the music, your feet are going to start tapping, and you start dancing – so you don’t need to know the background to enjoy anything.”

A Glimpse into the World of Indian Dance from Global Lounge on Vimeo.