October is hallmarked by Halloween and Columbus Day, but Boston University’s international ambience will often shine a light on foreign holidays, one of which is Diwali. Diwali is a five-day primarily Hindu festival that celebrates the theme of good triumphing over evil in the world. The main night takes place on the new moon in the Hindu month Kartik, which this year is Oct. 30. On this night, it’s common to dress in new clothing, light candles and pray to their deities, exchange gifts and watch fireworks.
Nine percent of BU’s international population hails from India, the largest Hindu nation, and many more from Pakistan, Guyana, Singapore and Sri Lanka, where Diwali is also observed as an official holiday. Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs also observe Diwali, making it one of the most widely-observed holidays in the world. Needless to say, there will be quite a few events at BU and in Greater Boston open for people of those faiths as well as curious observers like myself. Here are a few to check out in the coming weeks ahead:
1. Diwali: The Festival of Lights at the Museum of Fine Arts
Nov. 2, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Free with Museum Admission (aka a student ID)
There will be storytelling, dancing and seminars about the traditions associated with Diwali. As far as fine arts are concerned, there will be an emphasis placed on the museum’s South Asian collection. Artist Sunanda Sahay will also make an appearance to demonstrate Madhubani, a traditional style of painting.
2. R.K. Shriramkumar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nov. 6, 4 p.m.
R.K. Shriramkumar is an accomplished violinist of Carnatic (South Indian classical) music. He is considered one of the most knowledgeable musicians of this style and has given many lectures in both India and the United States on Carnatic music. He has also performed for several past prime ministers and presidents of India. Although the concert takes place several days after Diwali, it’s still great timing and worth the price.
3. Grand Diwali Dinner (hosted by Ambrosia)
Oct. 29, 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Demetri’s Function Facility
Ambrosia is an Indian-Italian-American fusion restaurant in North Attleboro, but they are renting out a space in Foxboro for this event. Although the event is dedicated to Diwali, the menu reflects the restaurant’s international flavor, with pasta, falafel, Mexican and Indian stations being advertised. Tickets can be bought in advance.
4. BU Hindu Students Council Diwali Puja and Dinner
Nov. 20, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
BU Photonics Building (9th floor, room 906)
Although this is taking place a few weeks after Diwali, BU HSC is hosting a night of Diwali storytelling, bhajan (regional religious) music and complimentary Indian food. BU HSC is encouraging attendees to wear traditional clothing.
5. Boston Bhangra Competition
Nov. 19, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
$20 for seating, additional $25 for an 18+ afterparty at Hatch Fenway
This annual competition features bhangra dancers from around the world competing for the title. There will also be dinner available as well as a performance from Amar Sandhu.