UB Carnival to Celebrate University's Diversity

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: December 1, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- CAUTION: The following paragraph, if sung to the tune of the prelude to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," may instill holiday cheer.

You know Christmas and Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Ramadan. But do you recall those other holidays not-so-famous at all?

The UB community is invited to celebrate all winter holidays -- including Boxing Day, Rosa Parks Day, Diwali and Junkanoo -- at the first annual UB Holiday Carnival from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 4 in 105 Harriman Hall on the UB South (Main Street) Campus.

Emmanuel Akinyele, residence hall director and a member of the Diversity Awareness Committee, said the event is designed to "bring the university community together during the holidays."

Peter P. Smith, UB assistant director of college housing, came up with the idea for the carnival while working at other colleges, where he noticed that student open houses during December were too narrow in scope. Most focused only on Christmas, so he expanded the list to include all winter holidays observed by students at the schools.

  "At every institution, Peter established the idea of a multicultural holiday festival and included more holidays than the previous year," Akinyele said. "The festivals grew in size and attendance."

  The UB Holiday Carnival list includes Diwali, "a major Hindu festival that is very significant in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism," Akinyele said.

"It is known as the Festival of Lights and symbolizes the victory of good over evil," he said. "Celebrations focus on lights and lamps, particularly traditional diyas, all symbols of hope for mankind. Fireworks are associated with the festival in many regions of India."

Also to be celebrated will be Junkanoo, which is "a street parade with music that occurs in many towns across the Bahamas on every Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and New Year's Day.

"The largest Junkanoo parade happens in Nassau, the capital. Junkanoo groups rush to the music of cowbells, in costumes made from cardboard covered in tiny shreds of colorful crepe paper, and compete for cash prizes."

  Rosa Parks Day is held in honor of Rosa Parks, famous for her refusal on Dec. 1, 1955, to obey a bus driver's demand that she relinquish her seat to a white passenger.

"Her subsequent arrest and trial for this act of civil disobedience triggered the Montgomery bus boycott, one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history, and launched Martin Luther King Jr. to the forefront of the civil rights movement," Akinyele said.

  As part of the tribute to Boxing Day, named for the tradition of the rich giving boxes of goods and gifts to their servants on the day after Christmas, the UB carnival planners ask participants to bring in cans of food or clothing for donations to local charities.

The UB String Quartet, a brass ensemble and a string ensemble from the Department of Music will provide live entertainment throughout the evening.

For information, call Akinyele at 829-3715.