Tricia Tuntland | Staff Writer | 10-08-12
Bemidji State University offers students from over 40 countries the opportunity to study abroad, while at the same time allowing these international students the opportunity to learn about northern Minnesota and to share their cultures with Bemidji.
The International Student Organization (ISO) held an event, called the Festival of Light, Friday, Oct. 17 in the Indian Resource Center. “We gave a short presentation on about exactly what Diwali is, from the perspective of a Hindu and what is traditionally done around the world in these festivals,” said Naree Greenland, president of the ISO.
Diwali, a five-day-long festival, celebrates the triumph of good over evil. “People from all age groups participate,” explains the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India website, http://www.diwalifestival.org. “They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen ‘diyas’ (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting firecrackers and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of the lamps is a way of paying obedience to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame.”
“It is a Hindu festival, but it’s not specific to India, it’s Hindus all over the world,” said Greenland. “It’s like Christmas for Hindus.” BSU has celebrated the Festival of Light for four years.
“We have a large population of Hindus, Lebanese and Indians, and we thought it was just right to have something from their hometown here where they can feel more at home and celebrate with not just the rest of the International student body, but with Bemidji as well,” Greenland said
While trying to keep the celebration as traditional as possible, the ISO offered traditional food, dancing and music that would be present at the Festival of Light.
“It was an amazing turn out,” exclaimed Greenland. “We actually planned for about 60 people, and I think we surpassed that amount, it did better than I thought it would.”The ISO wanted to give the BSU and the rest of Bemidji a taste of Diwali, while allowing the international students a chance to share and celebrate their culture. “Everybody was welcome, the community, BSU students, anyone who passed by and saw the celebration, everyone is welcome,” Greenland said.