RPI Grad ISA celebrates a bright future with the Festival of Lights
The Graduate Indian Students Association of Rensselaer celebrated Diwali with an extravagant festival of performances that included traditional and nontraditional dance, music, and a fashion show. Here, people gathered to celebrate the Festival of Lights alongside friends, family, and other graduate students. This performance was also the Graduate ISA’s first official event since COVID-19, marking it as an important step into the future for the organization to grow from COVID-19’s impact.
To start off the celebration, graduate student anchors Anshuman Thakral, Riddhi Banik, and Riddhesh Patil, invited RPI professor Ganpati Ramanath onto the stage to lead the audience in a traditional prayer called Aarti to invoke Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity. Before the prayer, Ramanath gave a moving speech on the importance of culture, as well as involving non-intellectual parts of our lives into the intellectual, to create a balanced and peaceful self. Ramanath stressed the importance of connection within us, our cultures, and our lives. After his speech, he and Banik performed a rendition of “Jai Lakshmi Ramana,” the Aarti that worships Lakshmi, with incredible vocals, creating an atmosphere that set the stage for the rest of the show.
Many of the music numbers featured were traditional Indian songs, including “Rabindra Sangeet,” “Bhagirathi,” “Phir Se Ud Chala,” “Parelima” (a traditional Nepali song), and nontraditional songs “Viva la Vida” and “21 Guns.” Most of the traditional singing was done by anchor Banik, whose voice showcased the beauty of the lyrics. All the musical performances defied language barriers and connected the audience to the musical culture of India and different genres of modern music.
The dance performances were a highlight of the event too. Starting off, anchor Thakral created his own dance and showcased his freestyle moves, setting up more amazing performances to come. After Thakral, several group dances performed, all of which were more traditional in style, but equally as entertaining. All the dances were incredible to watch, from the twists to the rhythm, each group rocked the house with their amazing moves. The dance performances also included a special display by RPI Capoeira, complete with Brazilian drums, instruments and unique dances.
What stole the event was the fashion show, where participants displayed their traditional and nontraditional clothing style. The women’s side of the show featured many different renditions of the Saree, the Ghagra Cholia, and Anarkali Suit, in several colors and stylistic choices, all stunning. On the men’s side, they featured the Dhoti as well as modern suits and clothing. Some participants went the nontraditional route, including a duo with white hazmat suits complete with gloves and masks.
Even when forced to shut down amidst having to shut down events due to COVID-19 related policies, the Graduate ISA still thrives and is looking towards a bright future. The Festival of Lights was a great way to re-emerge from their break due to COVID-19, and what better way to celebrate than with friends and family? For those interested in learning more about the organization or any future events, visit their FaceBook page RPI Grad ISA or search their website RPI GradISA (google.com).