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International Students Celebrate Hindu Festival with GSU Community

On October 16, Governors State University’s Office of International Services (OIS) hosted an evening of merriment in observance of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. Outfitted in colorful Indian attire, students, faculty, and staff honored the holiday through traditional songs and dance, henna tattoos, and Indian culinary delicacies.

While they decorated Sherman Hall for the celebration, GSU students Geya Malika Mothe and Premlatha Paga, both originally from India, shared one story associated with the holiday—the story of Ramayana.

Two international students from India smile in traditional garb during GSU's Diwali celebration.“After fourteen years of exile, Lord Rama, [his wife] Sita, and brother Lakshman return,” Paga explained. “The people celebrate the return of their king and their winning over evil. They celebrate the festival of joy, light, and brotherhood with the distribution of sweets.”

“During this time, we celebrate by lighting earthen lamps called diyas in our homes and fireworks outside,” Mothe added.

No matter the reason for the holiday’s existence, its present-day understood meaning—the victory of good over evil—is cause for celebration to students from India who celebrate the festival away from home.

“As important as it is for international students to understand American culture, it’s just as important for them to continue celebrating their own culture and to share it with the GSU community,” says Amy Schoenberg, Study Abroad Coordinator in OIS. “I know that when I lived abroad, I still wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. Celebrating Diwali is a way for our international students to feel at home at GSU and share a piece of home with their peers.”