Vol. 12 No. 2 - January, 2010

Cultural Celebrations

Manisha Parmar of Information Services and Nellie Toney of DEOO at the Diwali program

Diwali celebration
In recognition of Diwali, a Festival of Lights Celebration lunch was held on Oct.14 at the South Street campus. Manisha Parmar, of UMMS Information Services, was instrumental in planning this event and shared with the audience how Diwali is celebrated. Deepavali or Diwali, which literally means “an array or row of lamps,” is the most elaborate and significant celebration in India. Celebrated in the fall, the festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the glory of light. To Hindus, darkness represents ignorance, and light is a metaphor for knowledge. Therefore, lighting a lamp symbolizes the destruction, through knowledge, of all negative forces. Much like Christmas, it is a time of family gatherings, preparing traditional foods, decorating with lights and gift giving.

ramadan 1
Haytham Saleh Mohamed, MD (front), at the Ramadan Celebration program

On Sept. 14, an Islamic dinner (Iftar) and prayer was held in the Faculty Conference room. The holy month of Ramadan is a time of fasting for adult Muslims that takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic year. The origins of the holy celebration are linked to the time when Muhammad received the first of the Koran’s revelations. Throughout the month, adult Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. During the fast, they are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke. Ramadan is a time of religious reflection and teaching for Muslims of all ages. The day after Ramadan is called Fast-Breaking and is filled with special prayers, celebration and gift giving.

Celebration of holidays

Celebration of holidays
UMMS has a diverse workforce represented by various cultures. In recognition of the holidays and traditions celebrated during the months of November and December, holiday events were held at the University campus, South Street campus, at the Disability Evaluation Services office in Auburn and at the Schrafft Center in Charlestown. Employees described how they celebrate Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukah and Eid al-ada. This is an opportunity to learn about and appreciate the different holidays and cultural traditions of the diverse UMMS community.