Maintaining the ‘culturally diverse’ repute of the University of Sussex, the South Asian Students’ Society (SASS) housed a spectacular show, celebrating the Indian festival of lights – Diwali. The festival celebrates victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Garbed in traditional attire, students took to the stage to perform a wide array of classical and contemporary dance acts and musical sagas. Performances varying from Indian classical dances, contemporary Bollywood moves and Hindustani music were savoured by all. The eagerly awaited show was attended by over 350 people, including students, alumni, staff and local members of the Indian community.

Attending the festival celebration for the first time, Pro- Vice Chancellor of Sussex, Professor Michel Davies said that it was an honour for him to be a part of the ceremony. “I thoroughly enjoyed the variation of classical and contemporary performances during the show. The programme was culturally rich and charmingly displayed,” said Davies.

For attendees, the event was all about an experience to the vibrant cul- ture, helping them to gain knowledge and familiarity. The President of SASS, Props Mehra, aimed for similar results through the show. “The success of the event is derived from the fact that we are able to spread happiness and joy among other ethnicities and cultures.”

Speaking about the growth of the event through the years, she said, “The support provided by the Student’s Un- ion has been tremendous. The budget for cultural event increases each year which in-turn drives us to perform better.” Mehra took over SASS, previously known as the Indian society, in 2011, and has been a crucial part of organizing the renowned Diwali festival at Sussex.

Interestingly, some international students asserted that Diwali at Sussex brought back memories of the way Indian diaspora celebrated the same in their respective countries.

A student from Trinidad and Tobago, Nadja Nabbie, said that the Diwali celebrations hosted by SASS was truly a special treat. “The feeling of familiarity it brought back was not only comforting but was quite heart-warming as it reminded me of the many fond memories I have had on this auspicious day in my home, Trinidad, where the festival is equally cherished,” said Nabbie.

Meanwhile, international students showed keen enthusiasm to participate in the show as well. A group dance performed by Chinese students on Bollywood songs was applauded by all. Another student of British origin, Nathanael Young, said that being involved with SASS and the Diwali celebrations was a great experience. “I already had a keen interest in all things Indian and participating in the show had been an opportunity to learn more as well as getting to know many great and interesting people”, he said.

Traditionally marked as a time for families to come together, Prateek Sureka, an alumni of Sussex, feels that coming back to Sussex to celebrate Diwali is almost like coming home. “Year after year, it has become bigger and better. The joy I receive coming back cannot be put in few words. It can only be felt,” restated Sureka.

The name of the festival comes from the Sanskrit word, Deepawali, which means row of lights.

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