Photo by Dorothy Mai
By Dorothy Mai
Stony Brook University held its 16th annual Festival of Lights, an intercultural program celebrating the holiday season, on Dec. 7. This event brought together people of all different races and backgrounds to celebrate each other’s holidays with one another.
Although Christmas may be the most publicized winter holiday, there are many other holidays in December associated with other beliefs. The Festival of Lights aimed to inform others of these different religious holidays and celebrate those celebrate them. Appreciating these other cultures, the program helped celebrate the more well known religious holidays like Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha (Muslim), Hanukkah (Jewish), Christmas (Christian), Kwanzaa (African American), Diwali (Hindu) and different Native American celebrations throughout the winter.
Each holiday was also celebrated through personal performances from different cultural groups on campus.
Performances by Stony Brook organizations included interpretations, songs, dance, displays and traditional holiday foods to help guests truly understand these holidays. Some of the performers included the Newman club, the Asian Christian Campus Ministry, the Stony Brook Gospel Choir, the Latin American Student Organization, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Student Association, the Hillel Student Club, the African Students Union, the Hindu Students Council, and the Native American Student Organization. Other performances included Stony Brook’s all male acappella group, The High C’s, the Stony Brook Ringers and Cadence Step Team.
In addition to the performances, the Office of Creative Arts provided holiday arts and crafts for everyone to enjoy. The one hundred people in attendance were able to do a number of activities like decorating cookies and making buttons.
The Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life proceeded to do a lighting tradition to celebrate Hanukkah, the lighting of the Menorah. The Stony Brook Chapter of NAACP performed the Kinara lighting and shared information about Kwanzaa for each candle being lit.
In a room filled with holiday spirit and people of all different backgrounds, K’La Rivers and Robert Presser hosted the program with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Interfaith Center, and thanked those in attendance for coming to the event, saying, “With everything that is going wrong in the world today, we appreciate everybody for coming out and innocently celebrating so many different cultures and religions tonight.”