The University of Rhode Island’s Indian Student Association is continuing its decade-long tradition of hosting Diwali, the Festival of Lights, on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Memorial Union.

While observing all of the event’s cultural aspects and rituals, such as the ceremonial lamp lighting, those in attendance this year are in for some new and exciting changes. For the first time, the event will be completely free and open to everyone.

Suvrajyoti Kar, president of the Indian Student Association (ISA) and a fourth-year graduate student in chemical engineering, will be hosting Diwali 2015 as well as performing in one of the showcases. Suvra has hosted in the past and is “excited for the changes and improvements to the event this year.”

University President David Dooley was invited by the ISA and will be opening the event by performing the ceremonial lamp lighting. Following the lamp lighting the ISA will start with the program with a series of musical and dance performances, performed by members of the ISA and guests. A catered meal with authentic Indian cuisine will follow.

The ISA has been holding practices every day. Mahad Jamil, a junior undergraduate student majoring in computer science and business, has described the practices so far as “pretty awesome” and is very excited for the real event.

Ashvin Fernando, a Ph.D. student in chemistry will be performing with his band, Equinox, as one of the showcases; contributing a different and unique aspect to this year’s list of performances.

In addition to the live band there will be different routines done by members of the ISA demonstrating classical as well as contemporary dances with elements of Bollywood. “Each of the dancers contribute their own flavors of Bollywood, representing the culture through high energy choreographed dance routines,” Mahad said.

When the performances are over attendees are invited to the free catered meal. In previous years the food has been provided by URI Catering Services, but this year it will be catered by Maharaja from Narragansett and completely free. Suvra explains the reason for the switch was “to provide more authentic Indian cuisine that was more suitable to the palette.”  

There will be free henna done by a henna artist from Providence. In the past, henna has been done as a fundraiser before Diwali, however this year it will be free and a part of the event.

Infamoussingh, a fashion designer from New York, is joining the event as well and will have a stall to promote its brand.

Diwali will be sponsored by over 10 on-campus organizations, and as partners in bringing diversity and cultural awareness to campus the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies will be performing during the event.