As the holiday season approaches, many of our students on campus use these festive times to build relationships with other communities. The holidays are a special time for friends and family to come together, and the same rings true for students and their peers. One staple of our holiday programming is the annual Hanukkah-Diwali Dinner.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights which is celebrated every year in autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere) and in the spring (in the Southern Hemisphere). The holiday celebrates the symbolic victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.
This event has had a tremendous impact in bringing the Jewish and Indian communities together, while highlighting the similarities in culture and values around these important holidays.
On Thursday, November 30th Texas Hillel, Texans for Israel, and The David Project hosted their 3rd annual Hanukkah-Diwali Dinner with the Indian Cultural Association and the Hindu Student Association at the University of Texas at Austin. Every year this event brings hundreds of Jewish, Hindu and Indian students together to celebrate the common festival of lights and learn about the Indian-Israeli relationship. This year 180 students participated in this program which featured special guest Mahatma Moses, the world’s only Indian Jewish standup comedian.
The annual Hanukkah Diwali Dinner at UT Austin began in 2014 when David Project intern Tamar Solomon lead this initiative after attending the Relationship Building Institute and learning about the Indian-American community in Boston.
The Hanukkah-Diwali Dinner was also hosted for the first time at The University of Cincinnati. David Project Interns and Cincinnati Hillel coordinated the event with SASA (South Asian Student Association) in a night filled with shared traditions, cultures, and values. The event was incredibly successful in its first year, as students from both communities attended in what they hope to become an annual event.
As we wrap up our work for this semester and head towards the holidays, we're reminded of what this time of year means to so many communities. We're so proud of these incredible students who see the holiday season as a way to bring the campus community together and create lasting relationships.