On Saturday, November 12, Flushing Town Hall will celebrate the Festival of Lights with its second-annual Diwali Festival, featuring internationally renowned dancers and musicians from historic India and the Indian diaspora, with workshops, traditional foods, and family-friendly activities. Master musicians and dancers from India, Bangladesh, Guyana, and Suriname join forces to celebrate Diwali with regional music and dance from each country.
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 National Endowment of the Arts; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; Con Edison; and The New York Community Bank Foundation
The three-hour celebration features master artists: master Indian dancer Abha B. Roy with Sarika Persaud, Zeel Shah, Melisa Bhagwandin from Guyana, master Bangladeshi dancer: Anup K. Das with Antara Saha and Margia Smriti, dholak drummer: Babloe Shankar from Suriname. Join us for henna painting, rangoli (decorative design) workshops, a dance workshop, and installations of traditional South Asian dress. Delicious Indian foods and handmade Indian jewelry for sale.
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 will hold two school shows for grades four to eight on Thursday, November 10 at 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM. To make reservations, call (718) 463-7700 ext. 241 or email email@example.com.
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. “We are excited to continue this tradition at Flushing Town Hall and to provide an experience that fills all senses: musical performances, classical dance, traditional food, henna painting, fashion and much more.”
The artists performing at the event include:
- Abha Roy has blazed a trail of her own in the sphere of Kathak, a classic northern Indian dance form. Abha started her career as a classical dancer in 1984, completing her diploma in Kathak under the guidance of late great Guru Kundan Lal Gangani. She attained professional precision under the training of Pt. Durgalal when she completed her specialization in Kathak Kendra, New Delhi. She has served on the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, dancing Kathak around the world as commissioned representative of Indian dance. Abha has conducted workshops and classes for New York City schools, universities, libraries and museums since 1992 and is the founding director of Srijan Dance Center.
- Anup Kumar Das was born and raised in a family environment full of cultural activities. Anup got his inspiration from his grandfather and at a very early age started learning dancing in Chhayanaut. Despite being trained primarily in Kathak form, Anup is extremely versatile and has mastered Bharatnatyam under the supervision of Padma-shri Leela Samson. In late eighties he was invited to the USA to give dance lessons to the Bengali community. He is the founding member of BAFA, USA (Bangladesh Academy of Fine Arts) where he serves as the Artistic Director. He also worked with the Kathak Ensemble and Friends Dance Company for 15 years, and is a community arts leader in NY’s Bengali community. One of his folk dances is archived and currently been shown in the Brooklyn Children Museum.
- Babloe Shankar was born and raised in Suriname, South America. Babloe has 40 years of experience in learning, teaching, and performing traditional Indo-Caribbean folk music. He specializes both in vocals and playing the dholak, a type of Babloe is an integral part of the Indo-Caribbean community in New York City, where he frequently performs at different types of Hindu religious functions, as well as community and private events. He has produced seventeen recordings of bhajans (Hindu devotional music) and other folk music. Babloe has performed across the Caribbean, as well as in Holland, South Africa, and Mauritius.
- Sarika Persaud is a senior student of Abha’s. She has been learning Kathak for 13 years. Sarika had her rangmanch pravesh, or professional debut, in October 2014. She is currently a doctoral student in the Clinical-School Child Psychology program at Pace University.