Photo courtesy of Shreya Kurdukar
The TJ Partnership Fund’s Diwali celebration brought together Jefferson students and their families for an evening of singing, dancing, cultural appreciation and boundless energy. Over 200 guests attended the event on Nov. 5 to experience its performances and enjoy its activities.
“[Jefferson] is a very diverse community from many different cultures,” Student Government Association (SGA) president and senior Nick Begotka said. “The opportunity of this Diwali celebration is to share one culture with the whole student body. Opening it up to everybody makes it clear that our community is inclusive and diverse at the same time.”
Students on the planning community had greater autonomy in organizing the celebration this year compared to the previous year’s, but kept the mostly-parent attendees in mind throughout the strategizing process.
“We tailored [the event] toward the parents’ perspective, so there are jokes about TJ prep and grade stalking,” sophomore Ronith Ranjan, a returning member to the planning committee, said. “I think that contributed to the energy and [audience participation].”
Energy certainly resonated in every facet of the celebration, starting with the vibrant, culturally meaningful decorations that dotted the hallway leading up to the Jefferson cafeteria, where the event took place. Lively chatter buzzed around the cafeteria as guests waited for the performances to begin, and once they did, members of the audience never hesitated to clap to the beat or occasionally even sing along. The celebration’s cultural Q&A games and carnival-style activities came alive as a result of the event’s nearly tangible undercurrent of energy.
This year may have marked the second annual Diwali celebration at Jefferson, but improvements from last year could be seen in the increased number of attendees to the money raised—$2000 that will go to the TJ Partnership Fund.
“The Partnership Fund helps us fund senior labs, classes, and many things around the school,” Namaste president and senior Meghana Boojala said. “Whatever funds we get go into helping our school get equipment and resources.”
The increased attendance, revenue, and energy of the event stemmed from effective promotion strategies.
“We knew from last year there was word-of-mouth, but we wanted to try social media,” Ranjan said. “We made a Facebook event, we had emails, we had people do that.”
Both SGA and Namaste officers worked with the planning committee to publicize the celebration, sending emails and posting in Facebook groups. Namaste played a role in facilitating the event’s performances as well, by reaching out to former dancers.
These initiatives led to an event with a strong connection to Indian culture.
“[Indian] history is so complex; our culture is so complex,” Boojala said. “To celebrate that and understand the significance helps us become better people.”