The Indian Graduate Student Organization (IGSO) lit up the Mandela Room with a celebration of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, Sunday night. With lights, dancing and South Asian cuisine, over 250 people congregated in the Mandela Room to celebrate the holiday.
“A lot of planning went into this, people practiced a lot to set up a good performance,” said Shyam Bhojwani, the event coordinator of the IGSO and a graduate student studying computer science.
Musicians performed a range of styles, from pop, including an Adele cover, to classical Indian music, with some singing solos accompanied by guitar.
Several performances revved up the crowd, as the audience sang along to songs like “Jai Ho,” the theme song of the film “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Along with the evening’s singers, groups performed synchronized dances, with some featuring as many as 10 people.
Another performance featured suit-clad men with their female partners, and another just one woman dancing gracefully to slow and romantic music.
Nihit Sharma, a host of the event and a graduate student in electrical engineering, said that the celebration brought people together.
“Diwali is one of the most beautiful festivals in the world,” Sharma said.
Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger attended the event, along with Krishnaswami Srihari, dean of the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Upinder Dhillon, dean of the School of Management, as well as undergraduates and graduate students.
“We love sponsoring events like this because it’s not just for one culture,” said Mengchen Huang, the program coordinator at the Multicultural Resource Center.
Both performers and audience members wore authentic Indian clothing like saris. There was a best-dressed contest where six audience members — three men and three women — who wore traditional Indian apparel briefly went on stage to collect a small prize.
The Mandela Room was decorated with lights surrounding all four walls and large round tables near the stage reserved for notable guests. Each table was labeled as a different city in India, including New Delhi and Kolkata.
There were various types of food as well. Naan, a common Indian bread, was served, as well as samosas, baked pastries with various fillings. There were also cooked vegetables, rice and chutney. For dessert there was rasgulla, a cheese-based sweet dish in ball form, doused in syrup.
The night culminated with performers and audience members, including some children in the crowd, rushing onto the stage and jumping around in celebration.
The final performance surprised the crowd and had many people laughing as 10 Indian men, some members of the IGSO E-Board, took the stage with a synchronized dance.
“I was very happy to see the special guests who came and saw the show,” said Priyanka Soni, a graduate student studying industrial and systems engineering.