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Students from all cultural backgrounds are invited to join in a celebration of the ancient Hindu festival Deepawali and the Islamic holiday Eid 4-8 p.m, Saturday at the Farinon Center. The festivities are free and open to the campus community.

Members of the Muslim Student Association will be preparing Rangoli, colorful patterns made from different colored powders, in front of the steps of Farinon from 4-4:30 p.m. Members will have already outlined the patterns, so anyone may join in by adding color to the designs.

Worship and prayer will occur from 4:30-5 p.m., followed by dinner at 5:15, which will include traditional Indian and halal (approved by Islam) food and sweets. Those interested in attending the dinner should email physics major Adeel Altaf ’06 (Karachi, Pakistan) at altafa by noon Saturday.

A dance presentation is tentatively scheduled, with members of the Asian Cultural Association (ACA) wearing traditional attire and performing in the Farinon Atrium.

“I think this is the best way to respect each others’ religion,” says ACA president Inku Subedi ’05 (Kathmandu, Nepal), a double major in psychology and anthropology & sociology. “I hope people will come enjoy the food and celebration.

The ACA, Muslim Student Association, and Emile Durkheim Society are sponsoring the event.

Deepawali is a Sanskrit word that means “rows of lights,” in reference to the custom of lamp lighting during the festival. In some parts of India and other countries, it is shortened to “Diwali.” It comes in late October or early November on the darkest night of the year. The holiday symbolizes the victory of honesty and the lifting of spiritual darkness. In Hinduism, darkness is compared to ignorance and the customary lighting of lamps signifies losing ignorance and gaining knowledge.

The holiday is also a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, held in memory of mythological stories of various divine incarnations conquering evil demons. The festival is celebrated throughout India as well as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Japan, and other countries of the region, regardless of religious affiliation. Celebrations also occur as far away as South America.

Eid occurs at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and is a festival of great celebration. Muslims are not only joyful at the end of fasting, but thankful for the help and strength they believe were given throughout the previous month to help them observe self-control.

By everyone wearing their best or newest clothes and decorating their homes, the festive atmosphere is increased. There is also a special meal — significant, as it is the first daytime meal Muslims will have had in a month.

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