By Dhriti Chandrashekar, Global MBA 2013-2014, India
ESSEC India organized an event to celebrate Diwali this week. What simply started out as an idea to celebrate Diwali ended up being a colourful event at ESSEC! Diwali was marked on the 3rd of November this year. We, at ESSEC, were a few weeks late in celebrating Diwali. Nonetheless the enthusiasm always stayed high. This was one event which witnessed students in traditional Indian attire.
The event was started with what is called the Tika Ceremony where every guest was welcomed with Kumkum (red tika powder) on his/her forehead, which was followed by a customary prayer, “Gayatri Mantra” (Vedic Sanskrit verse from a hymn of the Rig-Veda). This hymn is chanted as an earnest and heartfelt appeal to the Supreme Being for enlightenment and peace. Thereafter a clip of “Incredible India” was played. Watching the video and singing our national anthem transported me back to my home. I have never felt more patriotic. The event was filled with tight performances from students. A few students took the stage to sing Hindi songs. If you ask any Indian, he/she’ll tell you that Bollywood (Indian Cinema) is known for three reasons – entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. This was clearly evident in the rehearsed group dance by the students of ESSEC. The group performance saw a lot of participation not only from Indian students but also from international students.
There was also a section set up by some of the Indian students where guests could have Sarees draped and Henna (Indian tattoo) painted on their hands. In the very end, everyone got onto stage and started gyrating to popular Bollywood numbers. My GMBA friends attended and participated in the event with full enthusiasm. A big shout out to them for supporting the event in full spirit!! The event ended with an elaborate Indian dinner. But, for us, the GMBA students, any eventful day has to end with a drink at Foys!
The one thing I always get asked at any such event is “what attire we wear” back home in India. So while I’m at it, I thought it would be nice to demystify India:
1. No, we don’t wear Sarees to college/school. Although I think it is the most comfortable piece of clothing. To the Indian schools and colleges, here’s a thought.
2. I suddenly feel the need to revisit geography. Asia is a continent and India is a country that is part of Asia. As logic has it, we are ASIANS too!
3. Our native language is not Indian, it is HINDI. Or is it? I’m not sure myself!
4. Yes, we have an accent. Sure it is funny. But it is an “accent” just like any other. I can picture Russell Peters (Google him!) smiling somewhere in Canada.
I could just go on and on about all these myths on India being the land of snake charmers, ashrams and gurus. But let me save some for the future events.
While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning behind it is "the awareness of the inner light". Here’s hoping that we all have a wonderful year at ESSEC seeking that inner light.