Diwali is a holiday that's a huge part of my life and an event I look forward to every year. In my life, two things that I care very deeply about are both my culture and family. To me, Diwali is a wonderful union of those two things.
I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the strongest links that tie me to my culture are my family. When I was in elementary school, I was the only one of my classmates who was Indian and it often made me feel singled out for leaving class on Diwali to go celebrate with my family. In the first grade, that all changed when my teacher had arranged for my father to be able to come into my class and explain the importance of Diwali to my classmates. He talked about the main historical details, much like we are doing tonight, while also highlighting the traditional celebrations and rituals.
Since then, celebrating this wonderful holiday has been a point of pride for me every year. I spend the entire day with my family celebrating the New Year, honoring my heritage and culture. Diwali makes me feel closer to my roots - to both my grandparents' and where I'm from. No matter how old I get, I always make an effort to take the day off and spend time with my family. Even though I am in college now and it has become harder to balance all my commitments to take a whole day off, I still make it a priority to go home on Diwali to: see my family, pray, exchange gifts, put diyas around the house, and finally culminate the night by setting off a few fireworks in my backyard.
Diwali is the celebration of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. I do my best to never lose grasp on what exactly this holiday signifies, especially with all that is going on in the world right now. I am greatly appreciative that Elon consistently makes an effort to share the holiday spirit with its students.