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Students Celebrate Diwali With a Nod to Paris Terror Victims

Celebration of Hindus’ happiest holiday begins with moment of silence for previous day’s tragedy

What was meant to be a happy occasion took on a somber note, but also greater significance, when SHU celebrated the ancient Hindu festival of Diwali, an annual holiday signifying the victory of light over darkness.

The University marked this “Festival of Lights” on Nov. 14, less than 24 hours after horrific terror attacks in Paris claimed nearly 130 lives.

Diwali is the happiest of Hindu festivals, often including feasts, fireworks and the exchange of gifts. Spiritually, it celebrates the victory of good over evil and hope over despair, which was thematically appropriate in light of the Paris tragedy. If nothing else, the attack fostered greater unity among those with different cultural orientations but a common desire for goodwill, concern for each other and a wish for prosperity.

At the outset of SHU’s Diwali event, organizers asked the approximately 150 attendees to stand and observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the Paris victims. They also projected a PowerPoint slide showing a crowd in the French city gathered around a large banner that read “NOT AFRAID,” and they commended Parisiens’ brave and remarkable spirit.

Sacred Heart observed Diwali with strings of lights, dance performances, songs, educational presentations about the holiday’s meaning , a fashion show, a playlist of Indian music spurring open-floor dancing, and trays and trays of Indian food provided by Paradise Restaurant of Milford. University President John J. Petillo took part in the opening ceremonies, illuminating a main set of lights displayed on a table. Kathy Dilks, assistant dean of students for Graduate Student Affairs, also participated, wearing a colorful sari and joining the activities.

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