Durham College celebrates Diwali Dhamal

In observation of India’s largest religious holiday, Durham College hosted its first Diwali Dhamal, meaning the Festival of Lights celebration, on October 26 in the new Student Services building (SSB) at the Oshawa campus. Co-ordinated by the Office of International Business Development (International office), the event drew over 90 people to enjoy authentic Indian food, music and dancing.

The Festival of Lights is a four-day long celebration which falls on the new moon between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali, stemming from the word Deepavali, translates to row of lamps. The lamps are filled with oil then burned to represent the triumph of good over evil. Throughout Diwali, individuals buy new clothes and items for their homes as a way of celebrating good luck and new beginnings.

“In early October, I was approached by students asking if the college had planned anything in recognition of the holiday,” said Sanjay Surendran, a work-study student at the International office. “I passed this along to my supervisor and then the planning began. It started out small and before we knew it, we had run out of tickets and had to find a bigger space to hold the event.”

Durham College President Don Lovisa had the honour of serving the jellibi, an Indian dessert and delicacy often served by the head of the house. Prior to the meal, students, staff and faculty members participated in a traditional Indian dance which featured music from several areas throughout India.

The Diwali celebration was the largest international event in the college’s history as well as the first international event to be held in the SSB. Organizers at the International office received support from the Diversity office and Student Academic Learning Services (SALS) in preparing for the event and co-ordinated with Aramark Canada, the college’s catering service, to ensure authentic food was served.

“Diwali was a great opportunity for the students to meet new friends and get to know the staff members and faculty on a more personal level,” said Deena Wang, co-ordinator, international projects and research. “The event was a great success and we plan to make next year’s even bigger.”