Inside the Muskie Garden around 7 o’clock Monday night, one could hear the sounds of crunching leaves and a match taking flame.
A smell filled the air, but it wasn’t the classic New England autumnal smell of burning leaves — it was aluminum and magnesium from blazing sparklers.
The festival night of Diwali, the major Hindu celebration of light, had begun on campus. With the official holiday on Oct. 19, when Bates was on break, the Multifaith Chaplaincy presented the Bates Diwali celebration on Monday as students returned.
“You associate a certain smell that comes from sparklers,” says Prarthana Mocherla ’21 of Old Tappan, N.J. “It reminds me of my childhood and my home.”
“Back home, my brothers and sister all fight over who gets to light the first firecracker,” says Meha Jhajharia ‘19 of Kolkata, India.
About 50 celebrators, mostly students, gathered first at the Benjamin Mays Center for Rangoli chalk decorating and dinner, then walked to the Muskie Garden for sparklers.
As with similar faith traditions that celebrate light at the end of the year, Diwali is a happy time, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of things good over bad.
For Armaan Mecca ’21 of Chennai, India, Diwali is about “coming together to have fun, and spending time getting to know people.”
His first Bates Diwali was “so special because I didn’t think I’d experience something like this outside India.”