Flushing Town Hall celebrated the Festival of ights with its second-annual Diwali Festival on Saturday, November 12,, featuring internationally renowned dancers and musicians from historic India and the Indian diaspora, with workshops, traditional foods, and family-friendly activities. More than 200 people enjoyed 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 was 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. New York City Council Member Peter Koo attended the event.
The three-hour celebration featured 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 were for sale at the three-hour event.
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 were excited to continue this tradition at Flushing Town Hall and to provide an experience that filled all senses: musical performances, classical dance, traditional food, henna painting, fashion and much more.”