Fordham’s South Asian Entity Club Celebrates Diwali


FUSE decorated the steps of Keating Hall with plant hangers, string lights and plastic candles lining the entrance. (Sebastian Diaz / The Fordham Ram)

On Friday, Sept. 5, Fordham University’s South Asian Entity (FUSE), decorated the front of Keating Hall with electric candles and string lights, turning it into a Festival of Lights in celebration of Diwali.

The event featured performances by Fordham Falak, the university’s Bollywood dance team, and Candela Latina, a Fordham-based Latinx dance group.

The event started with a check-in registration for everyone who had RSVP’d. According to an Instagram post following up on the event, almost 200 people attended the event. Shahidah Khanom, FCRH ’22, the president of FUSE, said she was excited about the number of attendees.

“I’m a little awestruck by the turnout,” Khanom said. “In my four years at Fordham, our turnout for Diwali hasn’t been that big! It’s nice to see that our club is becoming known and that we are able to spread our culture and traditions to the Fordham Family.”

Being able to share cultural celebrations with the Fordham community is a major principle held by FUSE, explained Khanom. “It’s important that Diwali and other south Asian cultural and religious holidays are celebrated on campus because we do have a growing Asian community on campus,” said Khanom.

“We want them to feel like Fordham is their home away from home, and we do that by hosting events that we celebrate in our own homes.”

Later in the night, after speakers from FUSE’s board introduced the event, Fordham Falak and Candela Latina performed dance routines to an audience of event attendees. The dances were followed by a candlelight ceremony on Keating Steps.

The Fordham Falak provided a statement as a club to the Ram via their Instagram account about their involvement in the Diwali event, stating: “Our team is honored to have been given the opportunity to perform at an event that means so much to many students’ culture. We truly cherish being able to showcase our hard work throughout the semester and perform to bring our diverse Fordham community together for Diwali. We hope to continue to celebrate each other and all of our different cultures, through our love for dance.”

Candela Latina also provided a club comment from their Instagram account about being able to perform at Diwali: “We loved to have the two different cultures come together and show the similarities while also celebrating the differences,” they wrote. “We thank FUSE for inviting us to the event and we look forward to future collaborations with them as well as the Falak team!”

With FUSE hosting this event annually, the organizational process was a familiar one. Khanom said the event came together without many problems. “We had requested the event a month in advance, but a lot of the organizing and catering happened two weeks in advance,” said Khanom. “Usually, I call about the food a week and a half before just to get pricing, and then, closer to the date, I put catering orders in. Outreach for collaboration for the event happened a month in advance.”

The Diwali Festival of Lights event was also a collaboration with a number of other organizations, including Fordham Office of Multicultural Affairs, Desi CHAI (Fordham Lincoln Center’s Desi Club), the Gabelli School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Advisory Board and Fordham Asian American & Pacific Islander Committee.

Diwali is a religious celebration important to Hindu culture, a festival of lights that is celebrated by millions of people across the world. However, the significance of Diwali can vary across different Hindu communities.

In an essay on the Diwali celebration, Vasudha Narayanan, Ph.D., describes the common themes shared during the festival:

“All the stories associated with [Diwali] speak of the joy connected with the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and goodness over evil… No matter which narrative Hindus associate with Diwali and which customs they practice, it is always a happy, joyous holiday filled with light, with family and friends and with goodness.”

Diwali will not be the last celebration hosted by FUSE, said Khanom. “FUSE is super excited to host more events that bring our South Asian Culture to the Fordham community,” Khanom said. “We want to not only create a home away from home but spread cultural awareness and we want to give back to the surrounding Bronx community. We do that by catering from local businesses and helping raise money during charity weeks with other cultural clubs on campus. A goal of ours is to create a space where not only our culture is celebrated, but the many others that are present on our Fordham campus.”