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Students Celebrate Hindu New Year

By Neeraj K. Gupta, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Last night, a group of about 50 Harvard students crowded into an Adams common room and celebrated Diwali, the Hindu new year.

Sitting on the floor in a circle around a spread of traditional Indian foods, religious icons and candles, the group ushered in the new year with devotional songs, legends and prayer.

Kavita Kacholia '98 began this Harvard tradition as a first-year, with a group of four or five classmates.

"It was something I had always celebrated before, and I just wanted to spend the new year with friends like at home," she said.

Kacholia was not alone in this sentiment, and this year the number of participants doubled.

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is "one of the most important Indian festivals," said Sameer A. Sheth '98.

The holiday is a celebration of the anniversary of the gods Lord Rama and the Goddess Sita's return home from India's southern tip after battling a demon, Kacholia said.

According to legend, after Lord Rama conquered the evil demon, Ravana, everyone in India lined the streets with candles celebrating their return.

Those in attendance last night lit candles in celebration of the festival of lights.

"We all came from different cultures in India, but since we can't go home, we're all celebrating Diwali here, together," Sheth said.

Kacholia encourages students to join in the celebration of Diwali.

"We welcome anyone to join and learn," Kacholia said. "The reason we're celebrating is something we can all agree on, praying for luck, success and love for the coming year."

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