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Indian students gearing up for large celebration
Diwali Night: Festival of Lights, has been held for

Indian students gearing up for large celebration

Fundraising and ticket sales are underway now for the Indian Student Association — one of the largest international organizations on the PSU campus — in hopes that the group can fully fund one of its biggest annual events that's both a celebration and a gift to the campus and community.

Called "Diwali Night: The Festival of Lights," it's planned for Nov. 4 and will include the culture, food, and traditions of India. Diwali is an official holiday in Indian and several Middle Eastern countries, and the festival, held between mid-October and mid-November, celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

The event will kick off in the Overman Student Center with a free cultural performance including dancing and music, then will move to Grubbs Hall across the street for a full Indian buffet catered by what organizers say is among the best Indian restaurants in Kansas City. That portion of the event costs $15 per person; tickets must be purchased by Nov. 1 so that enough food is ordered. 

The buffet will include appetizers, currychicken biryani, naan bread, a welcome drink called mango lassiand many other Indian favorites. Following the meal, a fireworks display will be held near the Weede Gymnasium.

Faculty advisor Mark Johnson said the PSU Diwali event allows attendees to get a taste of India without the travel. 

"They can do it practically in their own backyard, so to speak," Johnson said. "Students, faculty, staff, alumni – everyone comes together to share culture, food, fun, music, heritage, all in one placeIt takes the idea of OAGAAG (Once a Gorilla, Always a Gorilla) to a global level." 

"You can see it, hear it, taste it. It's the whole package. And it's an amazing part of the Pitt State student experience." 

Praveen Kumar Guraja, who works in PSU's Advancement Services and is the assistant advisor for the ISA, said the more than 100 Indian students enrolled at PSU work for weeks to plan the event 

It's paid off: the ISA has several awards over the past few years for Diwali Festival and for the Holi Festival of Colors — both attended by several hundred domestic students, international students, alumni, and community members. 

Guraja said he's making an effort to involve ISA alumni in the event 

"We have an Indian Alumni Association and we keep in touch with them," he said. "Some come from Joplin, some from Springfield, some from Kansas City. They want to stay involved." 

Those who would like to support the event beyond buying a ticket may do so by making a donation online through the PSU Foundation, Guraja said, by visiting http://giveto.pittstate.edu/givenow/ and choosing "other" for the fund, then listing Indian Student Association in the comment box.

Tickets for Diwali Night: Festival of Lights may be purchased by calling 620-719-0091 or 620-719-6284, by emailing mjohnson@pittstate.edu, or by visiting the International Office in Whitesitt Hall on the campus of PSU.

To learn more about PSU's International Programs and Services, visit http://www.pittstate.edu/international/

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