Flushing Town Hall Presents 3rd Annual Diwali Festival on Sunday, October 29

On Sunday, October 29, Flushing Town Hall will celebrate the Festival of Lights with its third annual Diwali Festival, this time as a Diwali Dance Party, featuring DJ Rekha and Abha Roy in a mash-up of Bhangra and Kathak music and dance styles, with cooking workshops, dance lessons, traditional foods, and family-friendly activities such as a jewelry workshop and henna painting. The event will provide a rare opportunity to see DJ Rekha perform once more after her final Basement Bhangra performance in August.

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, and the Srijan Dance Center; and for one day only DJ Rekha returns to the stage for a Bhangra dance party. Join us for henna painting, rangoli (decorative design) workshops, a dance workshop, and cooking workshops led by The League of Kitchens’ Yamini. 

Delicious Indian foods and handmade Indian jewelry also will be for sale during the lively event.

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 Friday, October 27th at 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM. To make reservations, call (718) 463-7700 ext. 241 or email education@flushingtownhall.org.

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.”

Participants 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.

Basement Bhangra’s DJ Rekha is a London-born, Flushing-raised musician, DJ, producer, curator and activist. She has been credited with pioneering Bhangra music – which emerged in the Punjabi countryside – in North Americ In 1997, she founded Basement Bhangra, which since had been held at SOB’s on Varick Street and began with dance lessons that evolved into a dance party. The event, which has become an international phenomenon, drawing an extremely diverse audience, recently celebrated its final show, on August 6 because Rekha was leaving to pursue other projects.

Yamini, of The League of Kitchens, Born and raised in Mumbai, Yamini started cooking with her parents when she was ten years old. She remembers watching her father cook for the large religious festivals her family attended, as the women weren’t allowed to cook for them. She moved to Kew Gardens, Queens with her husband and three daughters in 1999 and has worked in Manhattan at a jewelry company for many years. In 2009, after years of bringing lunch in for her co-workers, she delved into the catering business. She now prepares food for non-profit and corporate events around the city. In addition to cooking, Yamini paints and loves to sing and dance, especially at parties. The League of Kitchens is an immersive culinary adventure in New York City where immigrants teach intimate cooking workshops in their homes, and participants encounter a new culture, cuisine, and neighborhood with every experience. Each workshop offers opportunities for culinary learning and discovery, cultural engagement and exchange, meaningful connection and social interaction, and exceptional eating and drinking. Through this experience, we seek to build cross-cultural connection and understanding and increase access to traditional cooking knowledge.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens. This season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for FREE. Under the “Teen Access Program”, all 13- to 19-year-old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.

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