Northeastern to Celebrate Diwali across the Global Network – Northeastern University

Each year, on the day of the new moon, people light millions of lamps to get rid of the darkness. Light from the lamp destroys ignorance, brings wealth, health and prosperity and bestows knowledge.

Northeastern University will be celebrating the colorful five-day holiday of Diwali across its global network.

“My favorite part of Diwali is the sense of togetherness and joy that comes from everyone joining in on the festivities,” says Sribindu Sreepada, a third-year data science and health science student at Northeastern. “Whether it’s lighting lamps, dressing up, praying, singing, dancing or eating together, the simple act of coming together creates a special atmosphere of happiness and connection.”

Diwali is the biggest and the most important holiday of the year for more than a billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists around the world. Although historical and spiritual interpretation of the holiday varies from community to community, one common theme for this annual festival is the victory of good over evil and the triumph of light over darkness. The five-day holiday runs from Nov. 11-14, but Nov. 12 is the main day.

Sagar Rajpal, associate director and spiritual adviser for mindfulness and wellness at the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

As the number of South Asian students across the global Northeastern system is continually increasing, says Sagar Rajpal, associate director and spiritual adviser for mindfulness and wellness at the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, the university will celebrate Diwali this year with festive programming at many of its locations around the world.

The spiritual component is the most important element of the holiday, says Rajpal, who started the tradition of celebrating Diwali at Northeastern Boston six years ago. The many Northeastern campuses will perform their practices in different ways, he says, depending on the student populations that they have.

“I’m sure the decor will also be very colorful across the network,” he says. 

Diwali is traditionally celebrated on the new moon day when there is supreme darkness everywhere in the world, and people light rows of clay diya lamps to get rid of the darkness. Nowadays, Rajpal says, different light sources, from lamps, candles or lanterns to string lights can be used for this purpose. Lights symbolize the inner light that protects each household from spiritual darkness.

Orange and yellow colors usually dominate the holiday decorations, as the saffron hues of marigold flowers symbolize purity, auspiciousness and the divine.

Sreepada says she loves Diwali for its deep symbolism and the festival’s origin stories that often highlight resilience in tough times and triumph of good over evil. 

“Diwali is not only a wonderful opportunity to foster connections and build community, but it also serves as a reminder for me to stay true and have faith,” says Sreepada, who started the Hindu Undergraduate Student Organization on the Boston campus in 2022.

Last year, a Diwali celebration was the first major event that HUSO organized for South Asian students and the broader Northeastern community in Boston after its inception.

“Hearing from attendees that they appreciated having a space to connect with their faith alongside peers was immensely rewarding,” Sreepada says. “Being able to re-create and share experiences from home with my peers felt both grounding and joyful.”

For Ashutosh Kshirsagar, a graduate student in the College of Computer Science, the favorite part of the Diwali festival is making rangoli — beautiful patterns created usually on the ground in front of people’s homes with colorful powders and flowers to welcome guests. Although rangoli are traditionally made by women, Kshirsagar says, he joined his mother and sisters in creating the colorful patterns when he was little and it allowed him to enjoy his artistic side.

“This is such a beautiful thing to do,” he says. “I think that part of it made me feel more related to my identity as a queer person.”

Diwali celebration on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Diwali celebration on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Diwali celebration on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Scenes of Diwali celebrations on Northeastern’s Boston campus in previous years. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

This time last year, when Kshirsagar was new to the Boston campus, he did not yet engage with a lot of students and could not get a group to go for the Diwali festivities and enjoy it with more people. 

This year, as the founder of Queer Curry, a group for queer South Asian students, he is inviting everyone to attend a Diwali celebration from 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, at Curry Student Center, organized together with the LGBTQ Resource Center, the International OWAM and Center for Spirituality, the Dialogue and Service.

“That is a nice way for me to do something for the students here, make Diwali more approachable to people and make those from the South Asian diaspora at Northeastern feel more homely because they’re pretty far from their home,” Kshirsagar says.

Queer Curry will provide rangoli supplies and lamps for decorating at the event. They have also invited Northeastern’s Undergraduate Indian Classical Dance Team Malhar to perform for guests.

“Because Diwali is a very family-oriented holiday (you celebrate it with your friends and family), I’m more excited to do it [this year] because now I have a group of people who are also queer and are coming from a similar background and have similar kinds of stories with me,” Kshirsagar says.

There are several Diwali events throughout the Northeastern global network.


Northeastern University Sanskriti will be celebrating the festival from 1 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 11 and noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 12 at Curry Student Center, and 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Sacred Space, Ell Hall. Also, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 at Blackman Auditorium.

Queer Curry, the LGBTQ Resource Center, the International OWAM and Center for Spirituality, the Dialogue and Service will hold a Diwali celebration from 2 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Curry 174. Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend, enjoy sweets and participate in lamp painting, creating rangoli and jewelry making. 

The Graduate School of Engineering is planning to decorate offices at the College of Engineering and distribute sweets to students and visitors on Nov. 10 and 12. 

Yogi Divine Society invites members of the Northeastern community to celebrate Diwali with games, traditional fashion and a dinner at 8 p.m. on Nov. 10 in Sacred Space (200 Ell Hall). 

Hindu Undergraduate Student Organization (HUSO) and Northeastern University Aaroh, the undergraduate Indian music club, invite all undergraduate students to a Diwali celebration that will feature a short Diwali prayer, candle-lighting ceremony, musical performances from Aaroh and food from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Snell Engineering Center, Room 168, at 110 Forsyth St.

Northeastern University Sikh Student Association is organizing a Gurudwara Visit to take part in the Diwali and Bandi Chorr Diwas Diwan on Nov. 12. Participants are expected to meet at 5 p.m. at Ruggles T station. 

Hindu Communities of Northeastern University invites guests to participate in a pooja ritual, share food and enjoy music at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Onward, Sacred Space in Ell Hall.


Diwali 2023 will be celebrated with rangoli, diya decorating, food and dancing at Student Union from 6 to 8 p.m on Nov. 12. 


Northeastern students on the London campus can learn about the Indian Festival of Lights at a Diwali celebration in the Campus Hub from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 13. Traditional snacks and sweets will be provided. There will also be Henna art and Diwali activities.

Portland, Maine

Namaste student group will host a Diwali event with a movie screening from 6 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 17. 


The Festival of Lights will be celebrated with music, dancing and traditional food samples at 4 p.m. on Nov. 13 in the Event Space. Families are welcome.

Silicon Valley

All students, faculty and staff are invited to don their finest traditional or festive attire to immerse themselves in the essence of Diwali for a magical evening from 4 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 10 at VIP Lounge (75 E Santa Clara St.).


The campus will be decorated for the holiday, and students will be treated to laddu, traditional sweets on the Indian subcontinent, on Nov.13. Student Services encourage students to participate in the festivities with the broader community and have information available about the events happening across the city over the weekend.


A Diwali dance party will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 at the Event Space on the 14th floor.

Czech Republic

Northeastern students in the Czech Republic will be attending a Diwali procession on Nov. 11 at the Prague Zoo followed by a traditional Indian dinner. 


Northeastern students in Greece will be able to participate in traditional rangoli creation and learn Bollywood dance on the American College of Thessaloniki campus on Nov. 10. On Nov. 11, the Community Council is inviting students to decorate battery powered lights on the boardwalk to celebrate the “light winning over dark” aspect of Diwali.

Alëna Kuzub is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email her at [email protected]. Follow her on X/Twitter @AlenaKuzub.