Campus organizations join together to host Diwali Festival

Students are served traditional Diwali food. Photo by Keelan Bailey.
Students are served traditional Diwali food. | Photo by Keelan Bailey

Colorado State University-Pueblo organizations and clubs joined together Nov. 11 to host the 3rd annual Diwali Festival in the Underground of the Occhiato University Center.

The organizations and clubs that participated with the event were CSU-Pueblo International Students Association, CSU-Pueblo Asian Students Association, Center for International Programs, Diversity Resource Center and Student Engagement and Leadership.

Diwali, an ancient Hindu festival, is a festival of lights. The festival, consisting of a five-day celebration, is celebrated in India and other parts of Southern Asia. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness.

The festival serves as a time of inner reflection and to draw out the darkness instilled within individuals and to instead fill themselves with light, hope, positive energy, happiness and new goals.

The event consisted of traditional Diwali food, henna, traditional prayer and a traditional Diwali dance from CSU-Pueblo students.

CSU-Pueblo mass communications alum Muhammad Talha Qureshi was the coordinator of the event. Qureshi also currently serves as the Center for International Program’s Asian Recruiter.

“Our goal was to get 80 to 100 people at the event today, but we easily got over 200. This is by far the biggest Diwali we have ever had. It’s just awesome,” Qureshi said.

Assistant professor of history Judy Gaughan brought 27 of her students to the event.

“I decided to bring the students for a different learning experience. Also, the festival of light comes in a perfect time during the semester because we just began studying Hinduism,” Gaughan said.

Of Gaughan’s 27 students that were of attendance, student Jackie Alber was excited most about the henna portion of the event.

“I also got to dance and that was pretty cool,” Alber said.

Students participate in a dance at the Diwali festival. Photo by Keelan Bailey
Students and staff participate in a dance at the Diwali festival. | Photo by Keelan Bailey

In addition to the traditional Diwali festivities, the coordinators of the event held their own Diwali royalty court. CSU-Pueblo’s 2015 Homecoming Queen, Nicole Hulet, was present to crown the winners.

Among the nominees were students Lucas Rodriguez, Winter Naomi Vera and Fredlina Atencio. Hulet crowned all three of the nominees who all won.

Director of the Center for International Programs Annie Williams also helped facilitate and plan the event alongside Qureshi.

“I really want people to understand that it’s OK be friends with the foreign students, there is a lot that people can learn. I travel around the world everyday and never leave my desk, and I think that anyone gets the chance to get to know our international students is going to have that same experience,” Williams said.

Williams said she hopes students will attend other future events.

More information on events held at CSU-Pueblo can be found on the university’s website, under campus events, at