International students shine a light on Diwali: out of darkness cometh light
International students gathered together recently to shine a light on the festival of Diwali.
The students are all studying for Master's degree courses in International Business Management in the University of Wolverhampton's Business School.
The student-led event was given the go-ahead by Business School leaders with support from the University's Multi-Faith Chaplaincy team. Students organised the celebrations and promotion of the event which included a selection of Indian food, transporting lit candles to a small shrine that had been set up in the Business School Courtyard at the City Campus in Wolverhampton, music and dancing - giving students the chance to come together to celebrate.
Lead Chaplain, Reverend Sarah Schofield, said: "This is one of the most amazing events that I've been privileged to be involved with at the University, with the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences (FABSS) really going that extra mile to support the students in their endeavours to celebrate this important festival.
"It's wonderful to see the effort the students have all put into making this celebration meaningful for everyone taking part and I know that they have all thoroughly enjoyed working through the challenges of organising such an event - especially one that involves lighting candles!"
David Witton, Head of the Management and Leadership Department at the Business School, said: "The student-led celebration event gave us all a fascinating insight into the meaning of Diwali and I was privileged to be involved in one of the first steps in the small temple that had been put together by the students.
"The husk of a coconut is torn away, symbolising the inner wishes and materialistic desires that we need to let go of and then I had the honour of breaking the coconut with my bare hand by smashing it on the ground - symbolising breaking our ego. The event was very well attended and really gave an atmospheric flavour of how diverse our University community is and how we can all work together to celebrate our differences and similarities."
Shree Charan Bommakanti, one of the student organisers of the event from Hyderabad in Southern India who aspires to be a HR Manager in the future, said: "It was great to celebrate the Festival of Lights in this way, it's the first time I've celebrated Diwali outside of my home in India but it's been a wonderful way of bringing everyone together and a lot of people have turned up - so it feels a little bit like home now.
"I was looking to study somewhere quiet surrounded by lovely countryside and I love Wolverhampton more than anywhere in the UK now and I feel like I'm home, more than ever.
"We've had great help from the Business School staff, helping us to reach out to the right audience, helping us with the risk assessments and this is really good experience for us and has helped our learning - everything from marketing through to promotion, it's useful for us on our course. But we wanted, more than anything, for people to feel at home."
Two final year Journalism degree students were covering the event - Sean and Benedict - and will be working on a story, offering them experience of gathering information for a news bulletin.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights with its various also celebrated in other religions. It symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”.
The celebrations generally take place around mid-November, lasting five or six days.
Diwali is connected to various religious events, deities and personalities, such as being the day Rama returned to his kingdom in Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating the demon king Ravana. It is also widely associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and Ganesha, the god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles.
Diwali is also celebrated by other faiths including Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists.
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