For several years now, Diwali Ball has been the flagship event for NHSF Liverpool. This year, we pledged to make it bigger and better than before, to celebrate 25 years of NHSF (UK). On the day, we were truly astounded by a huge attendance of 330 people at Mountford Hall.
As we aspired to make this ball memorable, the preparations began in May, as soon as we were elected. We approached our sponsors, Rumi by Bukhara, to cater, and decided on a delicious four course meal – aloo tikki chaat on entry, samosa and pakore starters, naan, rice, karahi paneer, chole and mixed vegetables for mains and gulab jamun and ice cream for dessert. We had several communications with Arjun and many meetings with the Students’ Union over the summer, as well as confirming the venue, furniture and technicians. Just before semester began, we booked the cutlery, a Bollywood DJ, Evallance, and photographers to take photos of the priceless memories from the event. Meanwhile, the other team members arranged the décor, the poster and the trailer, so all was ready to be advertised at Freshers’ Fair.
Liverpool has never been short of talent and never will be. We saw a range of performances at the Diwali ball – from Bharatanatyam, to Lavani Maharashtrian and Gaana dance. We invited the Dance Society and Bhangra Society to perform and this was also the first time we had a celebrity performance by Arjun, who got everyone off their seats and running towards the stage!
One observation I have made over the years is that with the pressure of appealing to many students, Diwali Balls were drifting away from the true meaning of Diwali.
We wanted people to be aware of the true symbolisation of Diwali, so we took every opportunity to emphasised this. At the entrance, we recreated the scene from the Ramayana where Shri Ram returns home from exile in the forest, using our chapter logo. The front table had pebbles with “Ram” written on them, to symbolise the pebbles thrown into the ocean to create the bridge used by the Vanaar (Monkey) army to get to Lanka and rescue Sita from Ravana’s Kingdom. The events team also presented an innovative video animation with the basic story of the Ramayana, so that we could appeal to the wide range of people we had in the audience.
As soon as our guests sat down, they found a gold chocolate coin at their table. This was there to represent Maa Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, who is traditionally worshiped at Diwali, as well as to maintain the tradition of giving sweets to guests at Diwali! In addition to Maa Lakshmi, Ganeshji is also worshipped, as the Remover of Obstacles, for the upcoming year. Therefore this year’s aarti was dedicated to Ganeshji, as we brought up the new murti onto the stage. To emphasise the fact that Diwali is the ‘Festival of Lights’, diyas made of card were scattered across campus and on the tables to promote the event. All this sparked a lot of interest amongst the guests, which even led to late night discussions days after the ball!
At the end of the event, the Sewa team gave out their fantastic raffle prizes: speakers, VR googles, a signed Arjun t-shirt and a ticket to watch Mika Singh and Daler Mehndi live in concert; courtesy of the Battle of Bollywood organisers. The dance floor opened and everyone ran over when they saw we were giving out LED rave sticks, which brightened up the dance floor. It was indeed a fantastic night and all our efforts paid off, but more importantly – the NHSF Liverpool Parivaar were all happily celebrating Diwali together.
— Author: Jyoti Gupta (NHSF Liverpool President) & Priya Patel (NHSF Liverpool Vice President)