Diwali celebration at Loretto College Residence
Deiriai Myers CONTRIBUTOR
Photo: INSTITUTE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Located across the street from Elmsley Hall, Loretto College is a private all-women’s residence that is a part of the University of St. Michael’s College. Every year, the Loretto College’s House Council organizes and hosts an event which celebrates the holiday of Diwali. Loretto’s House Council is composed of a group of seven women who work all year planning events for the residents. Diwali, known as the festival of lights, is regularly celebrated in agreement with the Hindu Lunar Calendar by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains around the world. The festival coincides with the Hindu new year and signifies good conquering evil.
This year the Diwali and Eid event was held on Saturday, November 17 in the residence’s Lower Lounge. However, for the purposes of the event the space was transformed into a vibrant space with traditional Indian treats and music! During the two-hour event, the young ladies helped themselves to Gulab Jamun, Vegetable Samosas, Pakoras, and Chai. Additionally, Henna and Diya painting were available for the residents to enjoy. Many of the residents (myself included) expressed their delight in seeing that Henna painting was available for them to try out and use. This overwhelmingly positive response led me to believe that this activity was the most popular. This event allowed the residents to de-stress while participating and learning more about cultures that perhaps not all international students have experienced.
Being in my third year at Loretto, I have seen that this event is one of the more popular festivities held at the residence. It is important to host these events in residence as it reminds so many of us U of T students about the sense of community that we often forget exists with such a large student body. It also encourages residents to interact and learn more about different cultures and the various traditions they observe. Nearing the end of the first semester of the year, this event was essential in allowing the residents and I to leave our permanent home in the library and engage in stress-relieving activities, while learning more about this holiday and the cultures that celebrate it. The residents whose family cultural practices include the celebration of Diwali, can feel comfortable with sharing these practices with the rest of the group. This allows them to still feel connected to their homes while being however many miles away from it. Although I did not participate in the painting of the Diyas or using Henna to create body art, I was pleased to observe the overall enthusiasm of the residents in attendance over the activities and the food available. One of the residents, who said it was her first time partaking in Henna painting, confidently created a lovely design on her hand with the assistance of two other individuals.
Events like this highlight the warm community that exists at Loretto. Our small resident population facilitates the easy bonding among residents during cultural events like this. Although the ladies have no more than three weeks left before exams, it was quite heartening to see students come out to celebrate and enjoy the company of their fellow residents.
Congratulations to Loretto’s House Council for hosting and organizing such a great event, and we look forward to next year’s edition!