Photo courtesy of denharsh’s flickr account

Students filled Dewberry Hall in the Johnson Center with traditional worship services, colorful saris, sweet gulab jamuns and henna. The Diwali Mela brought the students of George Mason University together on Wednesday, regardless of their beliefs or experience.

Diwali, a “Festival of Lights,” is a celebration commemorating good triumphing over evil and is an important holiday in Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. Home to a diverse student body, Mason held its own Diwali celebration.

Organized by the Peer Empowerment Program, the festival provided Mason students the opportunity to experience other cultures. For students like computer engineering major Aditya Mehta, a graduate student from Mumbai, India, the festival was a chance to feel at home at Mason. “I’ve never done this before,” Mehta said. “It’s kind of like Christmas. A lot of gift exchanging going on.”

Other students attended with friends. Two women seated at the tables scattered around the room said while they didn’t know what the festival was about, they were there supporting friends.

“It definitely opened my mind to new ideas and allowed me to experience a part of Indian culture,” said sophomore English major Tyler Lawrence.

Illustrative of the diversity at Mason, an array of students attended Diwali, from those dressed in traditional kurta pajama and saris to those in jeans and a T-shirt who followed the aroma of Indian food from their classes. The welcoming environment led to an educationally enjoyable event of culture sharing and experiencing new things for all there. This seemed to be the intent of those who planned the celebration.

Sharing the Indian celebration of Diwali with Mason allowed students to join together, enjoy new foods, partake in different ceremonies and share cultures with one another.