The WOU community came together to celebrate Deepavali at the main campus today, with chatter and laughter ringing loudly as staff interacted over a vegetarian lunch meal.
Guests were greeted by colleagues decked in sarees and salwar kameez outfits, and gifted with bangles and stick-on ‘pottus’ for adornment. A few of the non-Hindu staff wore kurtas and Punjabi suits as well in a show of support and solidarity.
As is customary for any auspicious Hindu gatherings, the event commenced with the breaking of coconuts at the front of Homestead by Chief Operating Officer Yeong Sik Kheong, Registrar Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi, and the Deans, Prof Santhiram Raman and Assoc Prof Dr S Nagarajan, who were joined for the first time by Regional Operations & Marcom Director K H Chong.
Dr Nagarajan, in his welcoming remarks as Chairman of the organising committee, reinforced the message of Deepavali being a time for cleansing ourselves of negative thoughts and embracing positive ones. He took the opportunity to bid farewell to Prof Santhiram who will be retiring as Dean of the School of Education, Languages & Communications by year end.
In her speech, Prof Zoraini noted that Deepavali as the Festival of Lights is the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and light over darkness, adding that it makes lives richer to celebrate multiple festivals and respect each other’s values.
Prof Zoraini led her colleagues, Dr Kuldip Kaur, Dr Gurdip Saini, Rabikha Hasni Suparman, Lalitha Ramasamy and Fauziyah Md Aris in lighting the traditional oil lamps.
Prof Santhiram was invited to explain the significance of breaking coconuts in answer to a query. He said the act symbolises the destroying of our ego and ignorance and avoiding negative tendencies in our inner self, while the early morning oil bath on Deepavali day is for external cleansing.
Then was the segment for performances by the full-time students. Asswni Mariappan showed her versatility in the classical Bharatanatyam dance, after which the guests were entertained by a lively Bollywood dance and a Malayalam dance by the duo, Nerroshini Manoraj and Kawesshine Vivegananda.
Staff and students feasted on briyani rice with sambar (lentil-based vegetable stew) and dishes like mango pachadi , fried plantains, tovayal and tofu sambal, complemented by Bru coffee and massala tea.