Diwali lights up Queens

Pretty performance at the Diwali Cultural show.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

In spite of the cold temperatures and persistent rainfall, Richmond Hill, Queens, lit up on Oct. 22, with dazzling lights to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights on the Hindu calendar.

The Annual Diwali Motorcade, organized by Lakshmee Singh of the Divya Jyoti Association, in collaboration with the Arya Spiritual Center, began at sunset, and attracted hundreds of patrons who lined the streets as the rhythmic Tassa drums led the parade along a short route due the inclement weather to commemorate the festival which promotes good over evil.

The decorated floats carrying youth dressed in Indian regalia, designed with sparkling jewels, showcased the rich heritage that convey happiness, and the lighting of earthen ‘diyas’ (lamps) to decorate homes, while sharing gifts and feasting on festive fare.

Officials Pandit Manoj Jadubaj, Imran Ahmad, Soca Raja, Shanaz Hussein, and Lisa Etwaroo, had the arduous task of judging the stunning procession of cars, trailers and vans, designed with glitter, streamers and colorful flowers.

Participants, judged on illumination, creativity, innovation, craftsmanship, and overall dress appearance and music, competed for prize money, gifts and trophies.

Melissa Bhihhan, president of Dream Catchers, a youth volunteer organization that donates medical supplies to countries around the world, said Diwali represents good over evil and is a universal festival, that is celebrated by everyone regardless of race or religion. “We encourage everyone to celebrate, Happy Diwali,” she expressed in a warm greeting.

Other participants included the Durga Shiva Mandir of the Bronx, GuyanaChunes.com, Sri Durga Mandir, and Shyama Shyam, to name a few.

Later, the parade wound its way into the Arya Spiritual Center grounds on 130 Avenue to pay tribute to spiritual God Lakshmi Hawan during a cultural presentation of music, dance and festive Indian food.

The Queens College Alumni Association New York, Guyanese Girls Rock, the Caribbean Equality Project, the East Indian Music Academy Inc., Christine Latchana and the Image Nation Foundation, and Sarah Bacchus 34-24-36.com Designs, also participated in the event.

Seven-year-old Alexandria Sookwah dressed in jeweled sari.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

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