Hundreds of students begin on-campus Diwali celebration with songs, meditation

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Members of the Bochasanwasi Shri Aksharpurushottam Swaminarayan organization educate attendees about the origins of Diwali. The organization hopes to teach others how to incorporate truth, simplicity and integrity into their daily lives.

Photo Credit: Nikayla Belford | Daily Texan Staff

Hundreds of students sang and meditated Tuesday evening during an on-campus celebration of Diwali, an annual four to five day Hindu festival of lights. 

“We want to be able to live a true life and be true to what we really are,” event organier Hemali Patel said. “We want to have integrity and stick to our values. We want to have simplicity because things in our society are getting more and more complicated, so it’s important to be simple and true to our core values.”

During the event, students attended five information booths representing each of the five days of Diwali before participating in devotional songs and a question and answer segment. The devotional songs throughout the celebration called upon the presence of God and promoted practicing mindfulness and meditation.

“The whole program is centered around truth, simplicity and integrity, so we’re gonna be pushing how we can live a life with those three values,” said Meet Patel, who acted as Master of Ceremonies for the event.

 

The event was hosted by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha in the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center Ballroom. BAPS has organizations and universities all over the country and hosts Campus Diwali annually in several cities, including Houston and Los Angeles, Hemali Patel said.

Several years ago, economics senior Meet Patel and event organizer Manav Patel decided to help BAPS put on Diwali after the group was inactive for years. Manav Patel said they had a group of people willing to be involved but had not taken advantage of that yet. 

“The focus of this event is not aimed towards Hinduism … it’s aimed towards everyone and how to incorporate the basic values of all religions,” said Manav Patel, a government and philosophy senior. “We’re teaching people it’s okay that there are some failures in your life. The messages we’re trying to teach are universal. We’re not trying to do Diwali just for Hindus.”

Psychology sophomore Hemali Patel said that the turnout had been much smaller in past years. She said they were surprised at how organized and well-attended the event was.

Communications and leadership freshman Natasha Sagar, who was at the event Tuesday, said she appreciates that the event includes all students regardless of their religion.

“It’s really cool that it’s a cultural event as opposed to just a religious event,” Sagar said.