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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Celebrates Annual Diwali Indian Festival

Old Dominion University recently celebrated its 22nd Diwali Indian Festival, which is also known as "The Festival of Lights." The celebration was presented by ODU's Indian Students Association and co-sponsored by 13 campus organizations.

About 600 people attended the festival — a record turnout. The event included Indian classical dance, Bollywood music, traditional Indian food and a fashion show. It also featured felicitation ceremonies for Old Dominion President John R. Broderick and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Augustine "Austin" Agho to recognize their efforts to foster an inclusive and diverse campus.

Diwali is one of the most popular festivals in India. It spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. During the celebration, homes are decorated with colorful lights and earthenware candles called "diyas." Doorsteps are decorated to welcome guests. Shops and other public spaces are similarly adorned.

During the felicitations, the president and provost were presented with flowers and Indian attire.

"I thank the Indian community, but most of all I thank our Indian students who are not only terrific students, but they do so much outside of the classroom and in their communities," Broderick said.

Agho thanked the Indian Students Association and faculty for their commitment to helping students succeed.

"I'm so proud of the Indian Students Association," he said. "They are one of the most active organizations on campus, and what I truly admire about the students is that they are willing to help us understand and appreciate their culture."

Sai Nidumolo, director of the Indian Students Association, said the group takes pride in sharing Diwali with the campus community.

"Our main mission of the organization is to promote Indian culture and to support the president's mission of having an inclusive and diverse campus," he said. "The festival shows the way we respect and thank those who have contributed greatly to the Indian community."

The Indian Students Association, along with other campus clubs, provides opportunities for students to exchange views of their respective cultures, customs and traditions to promote mutual understanding. Members are drawn from the student body and faculty, and from Hampton Roads communities.

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