A Muslim at Diwali

In honor of Diwali, here’s excerpts of a story told by a Muslim student at my university about her participation in our annual Diwali celebration. Her story was collected last year as part of the university’s “Year of the Arts” initiative. Students, staff, alumni, etc., submitted accounts of how exposure to the arts changed them while they were here. You can read the student’s full account here.

It all started my Freshman year, when I joined the Indian Students Association.

I didn’t know a whole lot about Indian tradition and culture except from Bollywood films and a few festivals, but after the “Diwali” show, things CHANGED. . . . Though I am Muslim, and am a first generation Kashmiri-American . . . , I thought it would be worth a try. I went into this without any dancing experience whatsoever. At the time, I questioned my decisions. Would I embarrass myself, or would I be able to master this “Diwali thing”? . . .

In order to be a part of ISA’s Diwali show, Freshmen do a separate dance comprised of just the first years of the organization. It helps bring out leadership and team work within the group . . . There was no easy way to do it, so we did the best we could. . . .

It wasn’t until October I began to realize how fun the show would actually be. . . . Before this, I had seriously considered transferring because I wasn’t making any friends. During the last few weeks before the show, I had a family bond so tight, that my dilemma was no more. Art had kept me at Miami. Friendship kept me at Miami.

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