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19th November 2020 Costi Levy (2019, Philosophy and Spanish)

Diwali celebrations provide highlight during lockdown

Each year Exeter marks Diwali with special celebrations. A formal dinner in hall was not possible this year, but that didn't stop the Exeter community from enjoying the festival, as Costi Levy (2019, Philosophy and Spanish) reports.

In these strange times, marking celebratory occasions is more important than ever. ‘Of course, this year was going to be different’, says Anju Kudhail (2019, Biomedical Sciences), discussing her Diwali celebrations. Although she was not able to see her family this year, Anju made sure to celebrate the occasion with her household.

‘I decided to cook a traditional meal for my bubble. I did this chickpea curry that my grandma would sometimes make when I was at home. It’s actually the first time that I made it, and I was quite surprised with how it turned out. It was nice!’

She then listened to prayers with her family and did some crafts with her household the following day. At home, she’d usually light candles, so making clay candle-holders with her housemates was a way to mark this tradition. This was the first time that the other members of Anju’s household had celebrated Diwali, so both the meal and crafts were a new experience.

Exeter holds an annual Diwali formal dinner and decorates the Hall to celebrate the occasion. ‘I actually decorated some of the tables with rangoli powder’, Anju recalls, explaining how she prepared the Hall for the Diwali celebrations with some of the Williams students last year. Although she spent Diwali in 2019 with her parents at the Gurdwara, Anju was pleased that College marks the occasion: ‘it’s really nice to know that College makes a special effort to make everyone feel included. It’s obviously hard … but I think the efforts that they have made are really good. I definitely feel included in College’.

Exeter’s endeavours to mark Diwali continued this year. Despite not being able to host a formal dinner in the normal way, the catering team organised an incredible takeaway Diwali formal. The takeaway meal was complete with a three-course Indian meal, Indian sweets, tea, and even a battery-operated candle. Nothing compares to marking an occasion in our beautifully decorated Hall, but the takeaway formal was a huge success, nonetheless.

Chickpea curry Arts and crafts to mark Diwali

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