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!

NHSF Bristol Hindu Society:

Check out their Freshers’ Guide 2020

Social media:

A glimpse into the world of Indian dance

University of Bristol staff and students come together for a spectacular performance by postgraduate students, Aditya Sharma and Deepa Lakshimi.

The first big Global Lounge cultural event of 2020 didn’t disappoint, as members of the University community enjoyed a mesmorising performance by MSc Management (Marketing) student Aditya and MA Law student Deepa. Held in the Bristol SU‘s Anson Rooms, attendees enjoyed a stunning classical dance performance and delicious meal, organised by the Global Lounge, in collaboration with the postgraduate students, and professional dancers.

Almost 200 people attended the Indian dance event on Thursday 6 February, with a free delicious, authentic Indian meal and refreshments provided after the show, which many stayed on to enjoy whilst socialising and talking to the performers.

Aditya and Deepa showcased two very distinct and popular forms of Indian dance: Kathak [katack] and Bharatanatyam [baaruhtuhnatym], the first being a form of North Indian classical dancing which tells a story, and the latter a form of Indian classical ballet. Each of their performances was accompanied by a spoken introduction, explaining each dance and its meaning, as well as its cultural significance. Whilst staying true to the dance form, both performers presented a modern, fresh and personal take on the traditional roots of Indian choreography.

‘We did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous.’

Having attended previous Global Lounge events and seen a possibility to showcase his own culture and passion for dance, Aditya approached the team with the idea to hold an Indian dance event and, along with Deepa, curated a performance especially for the Global Lounge: ‘I heard about the Global Lounge when I first arrived in Bristol during the Welcome Week, and also attended a couple of their events which led to me getting in touch with them about holding my own. I鈥檝e constantly been following their updates and events 鈥 everything they do is always so exciting.鈥

Aditya is a senior Kathak dancer with eight years’ experience, and the founder and artistic director of Yatra Dance productions (a classical dance choreography unit in Bangalore). 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 during her dance career.

 

Despite Deepa and Aditya’s experience and achievements, both were still nervous about the night and how their performance would be received: ‘we did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous, wondering how the audience would bounce off us, and would they be able to relate to the dances?’

‘It just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it.’

The elaborate performances and beautiful outfits made it an immersive and captivating experience, with both dancers commanding the stage and transporting the audience to another time and place, into the lives of the protagonists of their stories. Both 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 – which clearly resonated with the audience. Speaking in the dressing room after the event, Deepa said: ‘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’re going to start dancing – you don’t need to know the background to enjoy it.’

‘The Global Lounge helps you get that one step further.’

In the giddiness of their post-performance adrenaline rush, both students were beaming after the show and – while still a little out of breath – spoke of their excitement at being able to perform in front of their peers, and to others in the University community. Both spoke of their passion and desire to give something back to the University, speaking positively of their time at Bristol and the support they’ve received: ‘the University really supports anything to do with cultural experience and I think the Global Lounge helps you get that one step further. The team are really, really helpful and go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. They鈥檝e made our entire journey really comfortable, and I think the University as a whole does a fantastic job.鈥

See some of Aditya and Deepa’s performance below, and check out all of the Global Lounge’s upcoming events.