Student Media Body of IIT Kgp


Illumination: The Light in Kgp's Night

Posted on Oct 29, 2016


As the entire nation is gearing up for one of the most awaited festive moments of the year ‘Diwali’, the students at IIT KGP are pouring their heart out for the preparation of their own unique way of celebrating Diwali, the tradition which they call ‘Illumination’ or just ‘Illu’. For KGP, Illu is Diwali and Diwali is Illu. For the freshers who will be going to witness this trademark celebration of Diwali for the first time, they must be feeling intrigued when they find the air buzzing with ‘illu’. They must be having such questions in their mind like what is it?, what’s so special about it?, what for our seniors are working so hard?, is that effort worth it? And all”. As the campus media body of IIT KGP, Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur feels that the tale of this unique tradition must be passed on to the newcomers. So, here is this article on Illumination to let the world know about this masterpiece of KGP students where technology meets tradition.

What is Illumination?

It might seem a bit cruel to many people who prefer to celebrate with their family but there is no Diwali vacation for students here. Students just get one odd day off. So, it seems as if to make up for the absence of the family, students have come out with something grander i.e., Illumination. Needless to say, it has become an integral part of IIT KGP student community. It is a tradition which every student takes pride in. Earlier, it just used to be the part of celebration. However, this year, it has been reinstated as an official competition between various Halls of Residence (after being scraped off as a competition since 2014). Fireworks and wasteful consumption of plastic materials is replaced by masterpieces filled with creativity. Thousands of glowing diyas stand out in the darkness on the structure taking forms of scenes from Indian mythology, issues of national interest and many more topics. Large grid structures called chatai, huge chatais, vertical panels made of bamboo extending up to 20 to 22 feet high are put and holder wires are placed in chatai which is used to mount diyas to finally create the framework based on a theme decided by the students of the Hall. The theme of Illu is generally based on mythological stories like those from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which shows that it’s perfect combination of technology and tradition. The level of ambition and energy the students show while creating these ‘illu’ structures are of top notch and hundreds of students pour out their hearts to take part in this tradition. You won’t stop admiring their palpable passion once you’ll see them working tirelessly in late night hours. And guess what they get in turn? Nothing but that ultimate satisfaction when the entire structure is lit on the final day, those bondings they make with their fellow students, those sweets the seniors stuff in their mouth affectionately and many more memories to cherish forever. It’s the result of immense teamwork, coordination and countless man hours. After all, it’s the emotions that count more. Right about now, students are milling about

The chatais extend to an amazing height of 6 metres (20 ft) with nearly 20,000 lighted lamps altogether. When the diyas are finally lit on the final day, those diyas act like pixels and make a beautiful design altogether. If you thought that it’s all what we do then you are wrong! How can we forget Rangolis! The Rangoli Competition also takes place along with illumination. Rangolis of exquisite detail and shading—measuring around 3.5 by 3.5 metres (11 by 11 ft) —are constructed using coloured powders, crushed bangles, and pebbles. Interplay of light, shadows and ambient music are essential part when Rangolis are displayed. How can we leave technology in any sphere of our life! Here too, utraviolet light is used to create a mesmerizing environment. That’s one moment for every KGPian’s journey in this pious land where dreams don’t lie. Those glittering diyas and vibrant Rangolis.

The chatais may reach a height of 6 metres (20 ft), with nearly 20,000 lighted lamps ( You can create Guinness World Record for the number of lighted diyas used counting all halls together ). The lamps on the chatais are lighted with all other light sources switched off, to showcase the art-panels made by the flickering lamps. On the same day as Illumination, the Rangoli Competition is organised as an Inter-Hall event. Rangolis of exquisite detail and shading—measuring around 3.5 by 3.5 metres (11 by 11 ft) —are constructed using coloured powders, crushed bangles, and pebbles. Interplay of light and shadow and ambient music are part of the display. Even technology becomes a part of the event when halls start using the Ultraviolet light effect to create a trance in the environment. Every Diwali, IIT Kharagpur celebrates the festival of lights in a manner so unique that stands as a testimonial to every KGPian’s journey in the land where dreams don’t lie. On the day of Diwali, a couple of minutes before the arrival of Chief Guest and other officials, mounted diyas are lit up to showcase the intricate pictorial description. Also, based on the theme of Illu, rest of the student hall is decorated as well.


Talking about its history, it is believed that in 1981, some innovative and supremely creative guys of Azad Hall of Residence (if somebody knows who they were then please do let us know in the comments) decided to celebrate Diwali by lighting scores of diyas on giant chatais. Later on, it was proposed to be conducted as a GC event. The history remains glorious but right now, one can see that the enthusiasm has dropped a bit as compared to a few decades back owing mainly to students getting indulged in lot of other extra curricular activities and thus not having enough time to devote for the purpose. However, the grandeur of the event has somewhat been retained primarily due to the fact that a larger number of students now reside in a student hall, a few percentage out of which are still dedicated enough to make the event a huge success.

Relevance of Illumination

Now coming to the its relevance, Illumination 2016 is the first event in the Social and Cultural GC this year. Preparations for Illu had started several weeks before the actual date of Diwali and had gathered active collaboration from the students. Usually, it starts with the involvement of 60-70 people and reaches to 150-200 during the peak time. During preparation of illu, the main motive remains to increase the interaction between 2nd years and their seniors so they can know their colleagues and seniors well. Illu has gained such popularity that some other institutions also have even started organising Illu after getting awe struck by what they saw here. Many alumni of KGP still celebrate it either by visiting Kgp or by creating a mini illu at their places.

As far as the role of Gymkhana is concerned in relation to organising the whole event, they have been pivotal in organising this event. The Gymkhana arranges for the judges who are eminent personalities in the field of arts and also provides for a monetary funding of Rs 1 lac for conducting the event. The halls too, spend around 1-2 lacs, depending upon their requirements.


Every coin has two faces. Unfortunately, Illu has received a bit of negative sentiments as well. With time, several questions have been raised. Questions are being asked about the worth of such big budget and point of wasting huge amount of both money and time of students. Well, whatever the things may pan out, the illu will remain that most glittering memory of each and every KGPian

This is the infographics and views from Kgp based on the poll 'आप की राय' conducted by Awaaz,IIT Kharagpur to know how junta feel about the same.

Sources : Gymkhana authorities, Metakgp, Quora and IIT Kgp students
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