- The good? The music and the performances!
- The bad? The technical glitches
- The size? 200-250 members
- The people? Students and families from India
- The item? A lot of traditional Indian costumes
Good defeating evil
A room in a De Wijert townhouse is packed with over a hundred people. It resonates to the sound of Indian music and the aroma of Indian cooking wafts through from the kitchen. The Groningen Indian Student Association (GISA) has organized its very own Diwali festival in Groningen.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, the celebration of good defeating evil. Traditionally, the celebration takes place among family and friends, who enjoy a feast of sweets in candlelight. However, the GISA adopted another approach, choosing to celebrate Diwali openly with other students and Dutch people.
One of GISA’s goals is to be more open to the public. Asish Pal, President of the Association, believes it is important to create ‘a platform for cultural exchange’: ‘It’s important as an association to come together and be one family of international students.’
However, this isn’t GISA’s only goal. Asish says: ‘In addition to increasing our connections with India, we also believe it is important to show our diverse culture to the Dutch and combine with other nationalities in a cultural exchange.’
Nilesj, a GISA member and a Master’s student of Nanoscience, is really appreciative. ‘Sometimes when your home country is far away, you can feel quite homesick. It’s therefore good to socialize with new Indian friends here and to cherish those Indians who are in the same situation.’ He also values GISA’s openness: ‘They threw a Bollywood party where they showed traditional Indian movies. The best part was that most of the people there weren’t from India.
GISA is not just a student organization, though. There were a lot of Indian families and children at the Diwali festival in Groningen. President Pal explains: ‘There are about 200 to 250 Indians living in Groningen, including partners and children. We’re also trying to bridge the gap between Indian students and people with an Indian background and a job in Holland.’
Interested? Check out the Facebook group.