Students celebrate Diwali

Sixth Formers Joey Kauffman, Arnvav Sardesai, Ethan Chan, and Neil Sawhney celebrate in the Sardesai home, October 22 – courtesy of Arnav Sardesai ’23

Diwali is a time when Hindu, Jains, and Sikh families come together and celebrate the night known as the festival of lights, and good over evil. Families will spend time celebrating with their families and friends with unique cultural aspects passed down from generation to generation. 

To Sixth Former and co-president of the Pan-Asian Alliance Arnav Sardesai, Diwali is one of the most important times of the year in which he builds a stronger connection to his family and culture. 

“[Diwali] is a time when you can be true to your roots.”

Arnav Sardesai ’23

“It is a time when you can be true to your roots,” Sardesai said. “It’s not really that often that I get to feel connected to my Indian heritage–it brings me closer to my family but [as well as] the past generations.”

The food, fireworks, and socialization all contribute to the celebration of the festival of light, but certain families celebrate it in different ways. 

“[My family] usually has a pooja and we throw a Diwali party, inviting our family and friends [with] food and fireworks. We clean the house, put up a bunch of diyas, and decorate the house,” Sardesai stated.

To Fourth Former Milan Varma, the holiday represents trying to look at life with a positive outlook.

“Diwali, to me, means the celebration of light over darkness, which is usually the cliché meaning parents tell their kids,” Varma said. “This can be interpreted in many ways, such as a lesson to always see with a clear inner view and to not let darkness or bad emotions cloud your thoughts.”

But the holiday that is so important to Indian culture has hardly been recognized in our Haverford community.

“I find it sometimes hard when kids don’t know what Diwali is or [students] have a lot of homework or a project due on the night of Diwali,” Varma said.

Varma also shared his disappointment in the lack of the community’s recognition of the holiday. 

“Diwali is a holiday which is celebrated by over a billion people around the world, but it still feels a bit odd to celebrate it when so few people in the vicinity do the same,” Varma said. 

To combat this problem, Arnav and Milan, along with several other members of the Pan-Asian Alliance, spent time putting together a table at the front of Wilson Hall’s entrance with a trifold on information about Diwali, food usually eaten as a part of the festival, and a television screen showing some of the common practices on the day of the festival. 

“Everyone walks past the upper school office many times throughout the day,” Sardesai explained. “I felt that it would be an easy way to give everyone an opportunity to learn about something that is really important to me and a lot of kids at Haverford.” 

Part of the mission that Arnav was on was also to try and help shed light on some of the Asian cultural aspects that are commonly overlooked and invigorate students who might not feel comfortable sharing their culture. 

“Part of fighting Asian hate is promoting Asian excellence,” Sardesai said. “Our [Hindu] culture is an important part of that.”

Arnav Sardesai ’23

“Part of fighting Asian hate is promoting Asian excellence,” Sardesai said. “Our [Hindu] culture is an important part of that.”