SASU highlights Diwali at UP for the second time in club history

Hosted by Pilots After Dark at Pilot House Nov. 11 starting at 9 p.m.

By Kimberly Cortez | November 10, 2023 10:29am
by Kimberly Cortez / The Beacon

As students start looking ahead to the end of the semester, many can’t imagine celebrating during a time with homework and final projects approaching. However, the South Asian Student Union (SASU) is looking to bring lightness to this dark time with their Diwali celebration this Saturday — a symbolic representation of the tradition itself.

Hosted in collaboration with Pilots After Dark at Pilot House at 9 p.m., SASU will be hosting a Diwali celebration that includes traditional henna, food and other Diwali-themed activities — including painting and decorating Diya’s, which are candle holders specific to the holiday. These will be used for SASU’s cultural show next semester.

Photo courtesy of Harleen Jakhu.

This is the second time SASU will be celebrating Diwali at UP, the first being last fall. 

“It's just a way for everyone to kind of just celebrate with us,” President of SASU Harleen Jakhu said. “Most South Asian holidays are about gathering and getting as many people involved in [the] community as possible.” 

While Diwali is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in India, where the holiday originates from, it is celebrated across various different South Asian countries and in various different religions. 

Often called “the festival of lights” for its traditional use of oil lamps and candles in the celebration, Diwali celebrates lightness over darkness, good over evil. It also celebrates freedom, enlightenment and other representations of goodness in life. 

It also can be a time to reflect on the passing of loved ones. 

A rangoli that Jakhu and her siblings made last year for Diwali. Photo courtesy of Harleen Jakhu.

“It's also a way to kind of honor the dead in our families and those that have died,” Jakhu said. “But there's two different ways that people look at it, like a Hindu way and there's the Punjabi way that I know.” 

There are various interpretations of Diwali depending on religion, ethnicity and location. Ultimately, SASU hopes to spotlight South Asian representation and share their culture with those that aren’t familiar. Celebrating in a way unique to them adds to the community they are trying to build at UP. 

“I think it adds a voice to a lot of people and it promotes diversity,” Jakhu said. “We try to get [South Asian] students connected because everyone wants to have that sense of community and have someone that they can just connect, talk to and relate to more on a personal level.”

For more information on the event, you can click here.

Kimberly Cortez is the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Editor for The Beacon. They can be reached at