Prominent author, columnist and educator, Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, was the grand marshall of the annual Diwali motorcade along Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens, against the backdrop of colorful costumes, multicolored lights and music during the “Hindu Festival of Lights,” on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Dr. Narine, president of the Shri Trimurti Bhavan Hindu Temple, who has served the community for more than 40 years, said Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil, and dispelling of the darkness with light, and added that it was an honor to represent the community as grand marshall.
“Diwali dispels the darkness in our lives. The little round diyas that are lit on the streets, welcomed Rama from exile when he came back to triumph over his kingdom,” said Dr. Narine, dressed in Indian regalia.
“I feel exuberant, it is triumphant for our community to show at this time, and in the history of our country Guyana and the world, that we need peace more than anything else, so we brought together people from all over the world today so that we can walk in peace, and celebrate light,” added Dr. Narine.
Hundreds of residents lined Liberty Avenue to enjoy the spectacular motorcade of cars, vans and floats decorated with flowers, and fairy lights that lit up the skyline over the neighborhood. Many of the floats carried bejeweled men, women and children, who showcased the beauty of the festival.
Organizer, Lakshmee Singh, who herself looked stunning in a green Indian Sari with gold accents and matching jewels, welcomed participants to the annual parade that began with the smashing of a coconut.
Miss World Guyana 2017 Vena Mookram, decked out in a purple-jeweled sari, was among many who embraced the colorful parade, celebrated with the spirited beating of Tassa drums, and recorded Indian music.
Some of the participants included the Shri Trimurti Bhavan Divya JyotiAssociation, Sri Dura Mandir, the Indo Caribbean Federation N.A. and NYPD Desi Society, representing the South-Asian American Police Officers, among others.
Winner of the best-decorated float won a cash prize of $2001.00.
The honored tradition, that sees lit diyas stewed in the yards of homes, and observed with sweet treats, began with an all-day explosion of music, chants, burning of incense, food, and a Pooja and Hawan religious service at the Arya Spiritual Center Grounds in Richmond Hill.
After the parade, the festival later culminated with a cultural extravaganza at the Arya Spiritual Center Grounds, with performances by Shelly Ramnanan Cultural Dance School, Natraj Centre for the Performing Arts, Sanasani Cultural Organization, the Krishna Mandir Youth Group, and David Ali Dance Group, and others.
Diwali is a national holiday in countries with large Hindu populations, such as Guyana, India, Nepal, and Trinidad and Tobago. The nationals brought Diwali with them when they immigrated to Guyana, Trinidad, and other Caribbean islands in the 19th century.