Deshi’s eventful Diya week wraps up

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Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

If the only interaction you had with Deshi’s (Swarthmore’s Southeast Asian Association) just-ended Diya Week was getting handed sparklers as you left Sharples, you missed out on quite a lot. Diya Week, named for a special type of light, is organized each year as a chance to hold events where Deshis can interact and raise awareness of Deshi’s presence on campus. Deshi’s Diya Week had an impressive number of events—from a chai house to multiple film screenings, a fashion show, and even a Garba dance.

The kick-off event was a chai house on Sunday night in the Women’s Resource Center. Anisha Chandra ’06, a member of Deshi who helped organize the event, described the night as a success. “The concept was—it would be cool if we could [have a night to] read South Asian poetry,” Chandra said. About six students read poetry, their own as well as poetry by classical or contemporary South Asian poets, and the audience of forty or more enjoyed chai tea and mimosas while they listened.

Monday night in the Science Center, Deshi hosted a screening of “Final Solution,” a recently made documentary about massacres of Muslims in Gujarat, India. The filmmaker, Rakesh Sharma, was also at the screening and held a question and answer session afterwards. Deshi co-president Mamta Jhaveri ’06 described the screening as the week’s largest event, and said the film was “well-made” and “educational.” It was previously banned in India because of its controversial subject matter, and has won awards from film festivals around the world. (Read more about “Final Solution” at

Deshi screened another film on Tuesday night called “Himalayas,” although it was not well-attended because of Election Day events. On Wednesday, there was a discussion led by a professor from Lehigh on South Asian women’s issues and the law, as well as the popular, annual Mendhi night, where participants decorated hands and bodies with henna.

A showing of “Summer in My Veins,” a documentary by a gay Indian director, was on Thursday night. This event was co-sponsored by COLORS, a group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students of color. Deshi co-president Rozina Ali ‘06 described the movie as an “amazing” cluster of home videos about the director trying to tell his mom that he’s gay. She added that the event had “a nice atmosphere” and was followed by a short discussion.

A Garba dance was held Friday night in Upper Tarble. Garba is a cultural celebration in South Asia, and the dance (somewhat similar to square dancing) involves sticks called dandiyas. Jhaveri explained that they first held a brief workshop teaching the participants the dance, since only a few knew it beforehand. Fifty or sixty people went away with at least a little more knowledge of Garba.

Saturday night, Deshi returned to Upper Tarble to put on a dinner and fashion show. About ten models walked the runway during the dinner. Chandra described the fashion as including both infusion and traditional looks, and Jhaveri explained that students simply participated with any appropriate South Asian clothes they might have with them here at Swarthmore. The week wrapped up with a well-attended Paces party Saturday night. Chandra said the party was “packed” from about 11:30pm to 2:00am.

Ali described the week overall as “comfortable” and “more about fun” than anything else. For more information about Deshi, contact co-presidents Rozina Ali (rali1) or Mamta Jhaveri (mjhaver1).

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