AFRL celebrates Diwali festival of lights Published Nov. 27, 2023 By 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Air Force Research Laboratory celebrated the Diwali festival of lights holiday earlier this month, attracting more than 150 attendees from across the installation. The lunch celebration, which took place Nov. 6, was organized by an AFRL-based, newly formed Asian American Resource Group, which aims to highlight Asian culture and heritage within the Defense Department workforce as well as promote diversity and inclusion throughout the broader workplace. “The festival of Diwali is very near and dear to the heart of people of Indian origin, irrespective of where they reside in the world,” said Dr. Dalvir Hopkins, AARG president and electronics engineer at AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. “It has been a privilege to start the Asian American Resource Group at AFRL/RX with a few of my Asian colleagues, which works to highlight the breadth of cultural diversity that Asian heritage has to offer.” Diwali, derived from Sanskrit term Deepavali, which means row of lights and widely known as the “festival of lights,” is a significant cultural celebration observed by more than a billion people around the world. It holds great importance as it symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. “The Diwali celebration luncheon hosted by AFRL/RX’s Asian American Resource Group captured the spirit of Diwali, with vibrant colors, great food and a warm sense of community,” said Darrell Phillipson, AFRL/RX director. “This event was a testament to the richness of diversity and sense of family within our community.” Beyond its religious connotations in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, Diwali is a time for families and communities to come together, exchange gifts, and light oil lamps and colorful candles to illuminate their homes, signifying the dispelling of ignorance and welcoming of knowledge and wisdom. “I was immensely proud of our organization’s inclusive Diwali lunch celebration,” said Dr. Susan Campbell, chief cultural officer at AFRL/RX. “Witnessing colleagues from diverse backgrounds come together, sharing joy and embracing the vibrant spirit of Diwali truly embodies our commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels valued and respected.” The festival also marks the arrival of a new season, bringing hope and renewal to people’s lives. It’s a time for forgiveness, unity and strengthening relationships with loved ones, making it a cherished occasion that transcends religious boundaries and fosters cultural harmony. Dr. Vikas Varshney, an AFRL/RX senior research scientist, said AARG was founded in April and the group hosted a directorate-wide luncheon the following month as part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. “The event was a huge success and gave us momentum to continue highlighting what Asian culture has to offer,” said Varshney, AARG’s information officer. “Although we are a handful of volunteers, we have full backing of our management to execute its mission. We are very much looking forward to growing AARG beyond AFRL/RX to other AFRL directorates, as well as other base organizations, to be part of a broader Asian American community within Wright-Patterson AFB.” For more information on AARG or future events, contact Hopkins or Varshney at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.