MEDIA, Pa. — Penn State Brandywine’s multicultural club recently hosted a Diwali festival luncheon on campus. For many students this was their first introduction to Diwali, the Indian festival of lights.
“Diwali is an easy holiday to celebrate with every other group on campus because it’s less about culture and religion,” said Zubin Chheda, an international student from India and treasurer of the multicultural club. “Even in India, people celebrate in a variety of ways. It’s a big party with food and dancing. Those are things that everyone can get into.”
Chheda and the multicultural club celebrated another Indian festival, Holi, with Penn State Brandywine students last spring. “Holi was a big hit,” said Chheda. “We had a great turnout and people enjoyed it. That’s what inspired our club to try Diwali this fall.”
The club members applied for student activity fee funding, which they then used to buy food from a local Indian restaurant. They also decorated the Tomezsko lounge with flowers, bright colors and party favors.
The student body responded positively to the celebration, filling the seats and engaging with opportunities to try Indian dishes, learn about Diwali and try a few Indian dance steps.
“I was so excited by how the audience took the event overall,” Chheda said. “When we started talking about the history of Diwali, I could see that people were really listening. A lot of students asked me questions after the event about how I celebrate in India.”
In addition to teaching the campus about Diwali, the event helped the multicultural club strengthen its commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion at Penn State Brandywine.
“The multicultural club wants to spread awareness of all the different cultures on campus, how they operate, what they celebrate and what traditions they hold,” said Chheda. “We encourage our campus [community] to learn about each other without bias.”