AAPI Vice President and second-year medicine student Shashank Raghavachari shared this reflection on the Diwali celebration recently held in the NEW Center Ballroom.

We wanted to promote a full NEOMED community feeling of togetherness for Diwali this year. Diwali is celebrated yearly in the South Asian community as a symbol of the victory of light over darkness, by finding the common threads of humanity between people. This desire to connect our campus community for a special night became all the more important with everything going on in the world at the time.

In the spirit of this and the “light over darkness” theme, we had pens and paper at each table in the ballroom where we asked attendees to write down something or someone that acts as a light in their own lives, to help them through the challenges and tough days. The responses captured so much positivity and insight into the support systems that our campus members use in their daily lives.

We also had a collaborative group art activity, where anyone could use pre-filled bottles of colored chalk to artfully fill in "Rangoli" designs, vibrant geometric patterns that typically are placed at entrances of homes to bless guests during the festive season. Delicious Indian food was catered and served while guests enjoyed their friends' and colleagues' company at their tables.

Everyone came dressed in their most colorful cultural outfits and best semi-formal attire. Photos were taken aplenty in front of a shimmering backdrop, and we had a massive turnout from both the M1 and M2 classes for some very cool group pictures. 

This year, we had two M1 students (Rahul Kumar and Vishnu Kasturi) as our DJs for the night, and they did a phenomenal job. We prioritized a playlist of South Asian music, and they seamlessly integrated the mood-setting music during the dinner banquet portion along with the high-energy beats when it came time for the dance floor to open.

After dinner, we had performances from students. We started with Roopi Korada, an M2 student, with a singing performance of two Bollywood songs. A group of M1 students then did a fun integrated guitar/dance performance, led by Sophie Tayade and Meera Nair. Roopi returned with a beautiful solo semi-traditional dance for everyone and later joined the M2s. I led a group of M2 students (including Balakrishna Brahmandam - my AAPI president, Maro Khalil Pujan Moradiya, and Roopi Korada) in an energetic dance to close out the performances in a crowd-pleasing way and bring our guests in as we opened up the dance floor.

From then on, the lights were turned down, the speakers were turned up, and we had a giant party with our guests dancing and having a blast. I think everyone enjoyed the night as a whole and it was a very fun way to connect the campus together and let off steam from our busy schedules. All the M1 and M2 students who performed put in so much effort and work in the two weeks prior to the event, taking time to meet every few days to choreograph, learn and practice.

We completely sold out the ballroom and had to even add more chairs just to squeeze everyone in! The excitement and enthusiasm that our campus community had leading up to our event was amazing to see, and we hope everyone had an enjoyable and memorable night together. On behalf of AAPI board, it is so moving to know that people are looking forward to an event you're putting on to that degree. It inspires us to keep creating events to bring people together. 


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