Diwali, or Deepavali, comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “row of lights.” It is a day of solidarity, where the soft light of diyas – or oil-wick candles – illuminate streets and homes, banishing the darkness of ignorance and suffering.
Diwali began as a part of an ancient harvest festival, which celebrated the fertility of the earth and prosperity of the new harvest. Though Diwali has taken on a significant meaning in Hinduism, in India, it is still celebrated by all groups regardless of religious affiliation as a time of renewal and growth.
“Diwali is a festive time of gift-giving, charity and sharing in feasts with loved ones,” said Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director of Flushing Town Hall. “By hosting this event, we hope to celebrate this season and provide audiences with an experience to fill all senses: musical performances, classical dance, traditional food, henna painting, fashion and more. I fully expect this Festival to become a new and vibrant tradition.”
On Saturday, November 21st, Flushing Town Hall will celebrate the Festival of Lights with its first-ever Diwali Festival, featuring internationally renowned musicians and dancers from India, workshops, a fashion show, traditional foods, and family-friendly activities. Click here to see more details and purchase tickets.
The Diwali Festival is supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Mayor Bill de Blasio; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; Con Edison; The New York Community Bank Foundation, and Flushing Bank.
The three-hour celebration features master artists: Abha Roy, teaching Kathak, Indian classical dance from northern India; Naren Budhakkar, performing on tabla drums; Indrajit Roy-Chowhury playing the sitar; Rohan Misra playing the sarangi; and, Falu vocalizing Hindustani classics. Additionally, there will be handmade jewelry from Rajni Anaarita for sale, and a guest speaker, Dr. Suman Bhatnagar from Unicef.
The event runs from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. Flushing, Queens. Tickets – $20/$15 Members/$10 Students & Children –are available at www.flushingtownhall.org. Additionally, Flushing Town Hall’s two matinee performances for school students on November 23rd have sold out!
“Audiences will learn Kathak dance steps with Abha Roy, the director of Srijan Dance Center and a Teaching Artist at Flushing Town Hall,” added Gabrielle M. Hamilton, Director of Education and Public Programs at Flushing Town Hall, noted that Flushing Town Hall is launching the Festival to celebrate the growing Indian community in Queens, and New York City.
She added, “The idea actually originated when our Teaching Artist, Abha Roy, invited me to the Rangmanch Pravesh (graduation concert or dance debut of a Kathak dancer) of her student Sarika Persaud at the Flushing Hindu Temple,” said Ms. Hamilton, who also is a folklorist and educator. “I was blown-away by the expert musicians and dancers on stage, and immediately afterwards, I encouraged Abha to bring these great artists to the larger community of Queens. In fact, many of the same musicians and dancers from the Rangmanch Pravesh will perform at our Diwali Festival.”