On Tuesday, November 16, the Indian Subcontinent Student Alliance (ISSA) held its annual Middle & Upper School Diwali Celebration.
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most important holidays celebrated in South Asia, primarily by Hindus but people of many other religions observe the festivities as well. It commemorates the return of Lord Rama and Princess Sita (two important Hindu mythological characters) to their hometown and their win against Ravana, the Demon King, representing the triumph of good over evil. To celebrate, the townspeople lit diya lamps and decorated the city with rangoli (colored powder). These festivities continue on today, and South Asians across the world gather with friends and family to celebrate, pray, and eat delicious food.
The South Asian families at Brentwood have held a schoolwide Diwali celebration since the early 2010s, and the ISSA officers this year were tasked with recreating the festivities while still observing COVID-19 protocols. Beginning in September, the officers, Rahul Y. ’23, Riya A. ’23, Mene W. ’23, Tara M. ’25, and Shreem C. ’25, worked with the ISSA faculty advisor, Mr. Rible, to identify which activities they wanted to have for students to participate in this year. They settled on henna art, diya lamp decorating, candle making, and chalk-designing to emulate rangoli patterns. They received the materials for these activities through the generosity of Brentwood’s South Asian families.
The officers were also tasked with figuring out how to provide students with a traditional Indian meal, as had been done in previous years. Though Brentwood’s South Asian families usually work with an outside caterer for the event, due to COVID-19 protocols, outside catering was very difficult to arrange. This year, the officers worked with Ms. Minichello, the Director of Dining Services at Brentwood, and successfully arranged a delicious Indian meal, serving chicken tikka masala (chicken dish), aloo gobi (potato dish), an assortment of vegetables with Indian spices, samosas (pastry), and mango lassi (mango drink)!
The event was a resounding success, with Middle and Upper School students and faculty participating in the various activities. The ISSA is grateful for the opportunity to share South Asian culture with the school, and they received much appreciation and support from community members. The pictures below showcase the activities and food!
South Asian families with children at the Lower School also treated the West Campus to a Diwali celebration, with diya decorating and Indian dancing. The ISSA officers also created and shared a video detailing the story of Diwali that was shared with Upper School advisories and at a Middle School assembly. Additionally, Rahul Y. ’23, a Co-President of the ISSA, shared a Bharata Natyam (classical Indian dance form) dance with the Middle and Upper School to showcase this beautiful South Asian art form.
The ISSA is so proud with how the nearly week-long celebration of Diwali went and is excited to continue sharing South Asian culture with the Brentwood community!