Diwali Celebrated Across the NYC Area

One of the floats in the motorcade along Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill (Photo by Michael Shain via Times Ledger)

The five days of Diwali (or Deepavali) started this week on Oct. 17, with the main festival of lights falling on Oct. 19, the third day. Hindus, as well as Sikhs and Jains, across the tri-state area, however, started the celebrations early with Diwali festivals held throughout the month. See a roundup below of stories from the local Indian press.

On Oct. 14 in Richmond Hill, a motorcade of floats with multicolored lights went along Liberty Avenue through Little Guyana, reports Bill Parry in Times Ledger. The South American country is home to a large Hindu population. Grand marshal Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, an author, writer and educator, described Diwali as a representation of the “triumph of good over evil, and dispelling of the darkness with light.”

Spectator Soldier Rasmark commented on celebrating Diwali in today’s world:

“Diwali is the festival of light, why? I’m told it’s like when man first met woman. Before there was only darkness and then there was light. That’s what Diwali means, and we need it now more than ever with all the problems we have in this world with the wars and the poverty. We need more light.”

On the same day, thousands turned out for the 8th Annual Diwali Mela of Secaucus in Buchmuller Park in New Jersey. The event included arts and crafts activities for children “to show creativity, by making hanging displays, diya painting, and large diya props,” writes News India Times.

Ahead of Diwali, the board of education in Millburn, New Jersey, unanimously approved on Oct. 9 the addition of the holiday to the public school calendar in 2018. News India Times lists schools in the metro area that have already declared the third day of Diwali as a holiday.

On Oct. 8, hundreds gathered in Jackson Heights for food and performances in spite of the rain. Reporter Ela Dutt noted in a Desi Talk story:

The area is probably the oldest enclave of residents of Indian origin, and though the demographics have changed and fewer Indian-Americans live there than in the 1970s, it has remained a magnet for all things Indian, from food and clothing to electrical appliances that can work in India.

Karva Chauth celebrations (Photo by Suresh Jilla via The Indian Panorama)

In Mellville, New York, the Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA) held a Diwali gathering on Oct. 8 at the Huntington Hilton Hotel attended by some 360 people with origins in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. The Indian Panorama writes:

The President of RANA Dr. Ajey Jain in his remarks said that the celebrations reflected RANA’s commitment to women’s empowerment. Women these days worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.

The three women honorees exemplified this and have done better than the best. The RANA celebrations also included women’s Karva Chauth Celebrations.

Karva Chauth is a one-day festival for Hindu married women, marked this year on Oct. 8, that was also celebrated together with Diwali in Martinsville, New Jersey, on Oct. 7. See more photos from the event, which included a fashion show and booths with clothing, jewelry and mehndi, at News India Times.

Meanwhile, the Times Square Diwali event marked its fifth year that same day:

An Indian Panorama article on the event started with:

Mayor Bill de Blasio may please take note that the Indian festival of Diwali has now grown beyond a community festival and has become a festival of New York City.

The event included a Diya (lamp) lighting ceremony followed by “The Light-Up Times Square Concert.” See photos at The Indian Panorama.

South Street Seaport (Photo via The Indian Panorama)

Another large Diwali celebration took place a week earlier on Oct. 1 at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan complete with fireworks. The Indian Panorama described the 30th Annual Deepavali Festival as “one of the most anticipated of the Indian American community’s annual list of attractions” and added:

The organizers quoted the police to claim that an estimated 100,000 people visited the event and enjoyed the festivities.

Also read about the history of Diwali in a separate story from the publication.

Finally, The South Asian Times noted that New Jersey residents celebrating Diwali can now buy fireworks that are being sold at select Costcos especially for the festival. This comes after Gov. Christie legalized the sale of “non-explosive, non-aerial” fireworks earlier this summer.

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