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A little bit of India in Chemnitz

At the weekend, nearly 600 visitors celebrated the Indian Festival of Lights ”Diwali“on Campus of TU Chemnitz

  • The Indian dance group led by Annett Kittner cared for authentic Bollywood mood. Photo: Katharina Preuß
  • A TUC student charmed the audience with angel clear voice and an emotional ballad. Photo: Katharina Preuß
  • The dance group “Sinjini“ garnered the thunderous applause after their dance interlude. Photo: Annett Kittner
  • The so-called “Rangoli“ in the entrance area is a traditional welcoming ceremony in India. The guests should feel heartily welcome, enjoy the bright colors and wonder the bright lights. Photo: Katharina Preuß

This past weekend in the dining hall on Campus of TU Chemnitz was celebrated the Indian Festival of Lights. Numerous Indian students and staff of TU Chemnitz as well as further interested parties met on the evening of 18th October 2014 on campus to celebrate together until late at night the most important festival in Hinduism. On a spectacular stage and fireworks show with traditional Indian food and drinks of the Indian restaurant ”Bombay Dreams“ following by a party with DJ eRdTeL this event was a success. Since 2009, Chemnitz Indian Cultural Center (ICC), a student initiative of TU Chemnitz, annually organizes a traditional festival of this kind. The main organizers Tushar Bose, Ajay Shetty and Deep Prakash are completely satisfied with this year’s celebration. „I am very happy that this year everything went so smoothly. We have received a lot of positive feedback. After we welcomed nearly 900 guests last year, we expected even a bigger rush this year. Although, an entrance fee of 2 euros, rose for the first time, apparently discouraged many students. For the following Festival of Lights we have already agreed on no pay of entry fees. Thus, each student and interested person receives again an opportunity to be at the Diwali independent of the financial situation“, said Deep Prakash. Overall, about 40 people were involved in the planning and preparation of event.

Diwali essentially means ”Array of Lights“ and is associated with a goddess of wealth Lakshmi. Traditionally on this feast day are bought new lamps, houses lit with candles, decorated with flowers and fireworks set off, because in Hinduism is believed that only brightly lit and well decorated houses are haunted by Lakshmi. At the same time, the Indian Festival of Lights brings, above all, a message: The Good triumphs over the Evil. „At Diwali we celebrate the return of God Rama, who defeated the daemon Ravana“, explains the moderator Richie Martin at the beginning. „The lights and decorations are an expression of jubilation and victory over Rama. It is a very joyful celebration, which is spent with family and friends.“ This festival is similar to Christian Christmas and the New Year in many respects, because it features candlelight, gifts, delicious food and family harmony. In 2014 it officially takes place on 23rd of October, because Diwali always starts on 15th day of the Hindu month Kartik, which depends on the position of the moon.

In Chemnitz, this festival has become an integral part of the series of events at Technische Universität Chemnitz, which is to unite all Indian students in one place and give all the interested parties an insight into the Indian culture. In the last years, the Diwali festival in Chemnitz has gained tremendous size and professionalism. „When I arrived in Chemnitz in 2010, there were about 20 Indian students and staff at TU Chemnitz. It was easy to identify them and to meet with them. Meanwhile, there are more than 1,000 people“, recalls Deep Prakash. „They all come together on Diwali and spend a happy evening.“

Guests were welcomed with an Indian custom: In the entrance area of the darkened dining hall, there was a mandala made out of colored sand, lit by many candles. This act of welcoming is an ancient tradition in India and also an integral part of Diwali celebrations. The colorful symbol is an expression of hospitality and is to delight visitors. The Indian, colorful-sparkling festive dresses of numerous guests and a comprehensive decoration according to traditional specifications completed the impressive image of Indian culture. At 6 p.m. started an extensive evening program, which was hosted by Indian students of TU Chemnitz Arjun Srivatsa and Richie Martin, charming with plenty of wit in English. The festival was opened with the traditional ignition of several candles. After an introduction and a short film on the significance and the rituals of the festival in India followed a colorful mix of songs and dances as well as limbering up entertainment of the audience with short quizzes. At the same time, the bar held a diverse beverages offer and invited to intercultural exchange. Among the highlights of the show was the final dance number of ”Arjun’s Dance Group“, which was performed by eight students. Arjun Mohan is a student of TU Chemnitz since March 2014 and directs the dance-loving group. He has previously collected 2.5 years long experience as a professional choreographer. After the thunderous applause subsided, the guests gathered outside the dining hall to witness the traditional fireworks. With sparklers and colorful rockets came on New Year’s Eve celebratory mood and dipped the courtyard of the dining hall in a bright light.

Franziska Ulbricht studies Master in Media Communication at TU Chemnitz and is a confident fan of India. She raves about the harmony and joy at the annual festival: „I am almost every year here and continue to be thrilled over and over again. The organizers put in such efforts to bring Indian flavor of the festival to Chemnitz. The cultural program is widening and getting more professional every year. It is like Christmas and New Year in one.“

(Author: Katharina Preuß, Translation: Nataliia Boiko)

Katharina Thehos

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