The festival of Diwali originates from India, where it is commonly called the “Festival of Lights”. On the day of Diwali every house is decorated with lots of lights and lanterns. “Laxmi,” the goddess of strength, prosperity, love and wealth, is worshiped on Diwali. People wear traditional Indian clothes and enjoy Diwali night with delicious food and beautiful fireworks.
The Seidenberg Diwali celebration was held at the Seidenberg Lounge, located at 163 William Street. The entrance was decorated with a colorful Rangoli—an art form originating from India, in which patterns are created on the floor or ground using colored sand or flower petals. Rangoli is thought to bring good luck.
Students, faculty, and staff attended the event wearing traditional Indian attire. Even the Dean of the Seidenberg School, Dr. Jonathan Hill, as well as Director of Development Deth Sao wore colorful Indian clothes they had purchased on trips to India to meet with prospective Seidenberg students.
The event started with lantern decorations. Everyone was provided with lanterns, diyas (candles decorated in Indian style), and all the decoration materials. Dean Hill, staff members Katie Todd, Deth Sao, Stephanie Elson, and Melanie Madera sat down with a crowd of students to color in, add glitter to, and otherwise decorate their lanterns.
Every design was inventive and unique, enabling our students to show off their creative flair. All of these lanterns and diyas were displayed at the Seidenberg lounge.
After all the decorations were done, it was time for the diya lighting ceremony. It’s an Indian tradition that the first diya must be lit by the head of the family. Dr. Hill did the honors of lighting the first diya in front of goddess, Laxmi, and wished everyone a very happy and prosperous Diwali.
With the ritual done, it was time for food! On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, everyone enjoyed delicious authentic Indian food with lots of chit chatting.
Everyone there shared thoughts about significance of Diwali and exchanged ideas about how Diwali is celebrated in India. It was a good time for all, especially when everyone got to explore lots of ideas regarding this festival.
Our annual Diwali celebration is always one of our favorites – we are glad that everyone had an amazing time and we look forward to celebrating again next year!
“I’ve never been so proud of being an Indian before!”
Listening to Krutika Wadhwa (BS in Computer Science ’19) talk about Amateur Night is exhilarating. It turns out that not only is she a stunning traditional dancer, but she can tell a great story too – something she attributes to her mother’s writing talents and her own journey through elocution lessons.
Krutika is our only Indian undergraduate student, something she attributes to an unfortunate myth in international communities that undergraduates don’t get scholarships. Krutika herself gained scholarships on her acceptance to Pace that made her moving to the United States possible.
As well as being the one person you can count on to have a smile on her face, Krutika is a Seidenberg front desk staff member and probably spends more time here than anywhere else. We’re more than cool with it.
On March 2nd, she participated in Pace University’s Amateur Night, a showcase of some of the community’s top talent at the Schimmel Center.
The performance was a vibrant, energetic, traditional Indian dance which left an impression not just on Krutika, but on the community as a whole.
Read on to hear all about our smiliest student’s incredible experience.
Why did you decide to perform at Amateur Night?
I attended Amateur Night last year – it was my first event at Pace university! I had just come to the United States, and it was very inspiring to see all these students perform. I thought about how cool it would be if I did an Indian dance – people who had never seen something like that before, how awesome would that be? I made a mental note: do it myself next year. When the time came, I had to do two rounds of auditions before the final show. I did two routines, one for each audition. The second routine is the one I did on stage. Throughout the whole process I was never nervous about how it would go, because I was not expecting anything. Everybody in that show was already a singer or dancer and was a major in that field, and I was the only computer science student!
On the day, I was getting a little nervous because it was going to be in front of an audience, not just judges. I didn’t know how they would take it, seeing something they hadn’t seen before. I didn’t know my audience, I was going in blind. But I had awesome friends. Melanie Greene and Rachel Gonzalez (fellow Seidenberg students) helped me get ready. They even researched traditional Indian clothing for me to wear and helped me get dressed! And when the time came, I walked into the dressing room and all other 13 contestants were there and it was very intimidating – sharing one space with all who were competing.
I was nervous. I hadn’t been on stage performing in 4 years. Pace gave me that and I’m very grateful for it. I didn’t know if I still had it in me, and when I walked into the dressing room everyone was checking me out top to bottom because I was dressed in this weird outfit! They asked all these questions: what did I have on my hand, why did I have henna on, they complimented my jewelry. I couldn’t talk to anyone, but gradually I started. One of the best parts was that people could tell I was nervous and that it was my first time, and they spoke to me, made me feel comfortable. They told me not to worry about it, told me not to stress.
I was the second to last performer, so the nerves were building all night. Once it began, it was fast. I was backstage watching the performer before me and I told myself “just enjoy yourself. That’s what you’re here for. You’re going to get to do what you love and it’s going to be great.” Then it was my turn. I walked on stage. I cannot tell you how awesome the crowd was. As someone who was so scared and worried in the morning about what people would think, I was there on stage and people were screaming and it was just incredible. During the transition between the two songs, people screamed so loudly I will never forget it. I remember performing one move with so much energy and enthusiasm it’s etched in my memory for life. After I got off stage, I was crying. I was so happy. The best reaction was from the other contestants. They had all seen me perform and found me halfway to the dressing room. They surrounded me and gave me compliments, they told me how they saw I was nervous then I came on stage and it was like seeing someone totally different.
The best reaction though was from the crowd. About 5% of the audience was Indian, but that’s about it. People were coming up to me and said they had been so happy to see me perform. I was approached by some second generation Indians who told me that they felt represented by me, that it was the first time they had felt that way at an event not specifically for Indians.
At that point, I didn’t care if I won or if I lost, it didn’t matter. The response that I got, I don’t think I could’ve gotten that from an Indian only audience. People were just so welcoming and sweet to me.
I was representing my community, and the Seidenberg community. Most of my Seidenberg family was there, which made me feel very happy.
Krutika came second in the competition, scoring a $500 award for her stunning performance.
In the end, winning second place didn’t really have much of an impact on Krutika’s experience. “After coming to Pace, I get to do all the things I loved doing in India. My mom is so happy back home in India because I’m happy.
“I have not been this happy ever before. I am doing so much here I couldn’t even have dreamed of in India. It’s not just me, it’s my parents. They can feel happy that the decision they made is the right one. They’ve even become Seidenberg International Parent Ambassadors in India.”
Krutika, we love you (and your parents). We also can’t wait for you to teach us your moves. Thank you for sharing your thrilling experience and what it means to you with your Seidenberg family!