On a cold, rainy, October night – one of the last cold, rainy, October nights – a group of people gathered behind Parrish to escape the rain. They mulled over, reminisced about old memories, laughed. They lit sparklers, took pictures.
After the pictures, the group of people proceeded to go inside Parrish where a breadth of food – aluminum containers of warm, spicy samosas and sweet, sticky, gulab jamun; a large, white bucket of fragrant chai – was waiting for them. They ate food, reminisced some more, took some more pictures.
Deshi, Swarthmore’s South Asian group, held its annual Diwali festival on Oct 30th with the help of the Intercultural Center. While the celebration of the Indian festival of light was originally supposed to be held on Parrish Beach, unfortunate weather led to the slightly more intimate location of the patio behind Parrish and its front parlors.
Aamia Malik ‘18, an organizer of Deshi, was relieved that the weather didn’t hinder the success of the event.
“Given the last minute, freak thunderstorm and the resulting location change, we were –somewhat surprisingly– still able to make the event happen just as planned,” Malik said.
What a sight the celebration was. Students dressed in traditional Indian wear – pink saris glittering with jewels and sequins, cotton kurtas and vests – talked about food and language and music alongside others rushing in from McCabe in their Swarthmore hoodies (I was in the latter category). Plates dripped with the intermingling sauces of different foods. The mantle of Parrish was illuminated with string lights – perhaps no competition for the brilliant displays of indian firecrackers , but an earnest gesture nevertheless.
Aditya Jayakrishnan ‘20,  International Student from Chennai, India, found the celebration to be incredibly comforting.
“It meant a lot to me that people who weren’t Indian or even [of] Indian origin showed up and took part in the celebrations. It showed that people at Swat really care about other cultures. It also made me a little homesick, talking about all my Diwali memories. However, it was nice to have a little slice of India here at Swat,” Jayakrishnan said.
Malik, too, was pleased with the outcome of the celebration.
“It seemed that the event was well received … Sparklers are always fun, and the snacks afterwards seemed to really hit the spot,” she said.
Jayakrishnan appreciates the appreciation for Indian culture that the Diwali festival demonstrated.
“It’s really great that they’re taking the time to organize events relating to several different cultures, and that people from Deshi were willing to put in so much effort to make it happen without a hitch,” Jayakrishnan said.
Indeed, the celebration transformed the generally more subdued atmosphere of Parrish Parlor into one filled with laughter, with disposable paper cups and plates, with light.

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