Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights was celebrated with a spectacular motorcade, which lit up the night skies over Richmond Hill. Now in its 11th year, the motorcade adorned with lights, flowers and streamers wound its way along Liberty Avenue to loud cheers from spectators.
The Oct. 18 parade, showcased the youth of the community, dressed in dazzling traditional colorful Indian saris and lavish jewels. Others wore career attire and showcased their versatility on the Tassa drums with Indian music to honor Hindi God Rama, who is said to have returned to the kingdom after years of exile.
Kavita Rampersaud, a first time judge says, “there are many mythical versions in India about the origin of Diwali.” She remembers all too well the excitement she felt as a kid participating in the motorcade in Guyana.
“This brings back great memories of growing up and being a part of Diwali in my village. The children were dressed up as Gods and Goddesses,” added Rampersaud who scored the floats on originality and overall participation.
Along with other judges Pandit Lakeram Maharaj, Mavim Phagn and Devicka Persaud, who had the tough task of scoring the fascinating floats, Kem Manadeo praised community temples for motivating the youth to participate in the celebration.
“This parade is getting bigger every year and thanks to the beautiful weather tonight, thousands came out to support and celebrate this joyous festival,” said Manadeo who added that many of the participants took only one week to decorate their float.
Organized by Lakshmee Singh of the Divya Jyoti Association of New York (DJA), “Deepavali” – meaning row of lights in Sanskrit - is commemorated with the lighting of candles and lamps called “diyas.” They decorate homes and yards. Hindus also celebrate the joyous occasion with the eating of sweet treats, singing and dancing.
“The Divya Jyoti Association started by what we call the founding Mothers. My mother Dolly Singh who started the 1st Diwali parade with the Arya Spiritual Center led by Pandit Ramlall desired to uphold Diwali our festival of lights in NYC, said Singh”
The “torch” has been handed down to the “children of the community.”
DJA is carried on by now a younger group of friends who’s main goal, is to bring a little light in to the lives of our community.
Diwali festivities began with Lakshmi Hawan to sanctify the event. This religious offering took place at The Arya Spiritual Center and was led by Pandit Rajendra Persaud of Hari Om Tat Sat Mandir in New Jersey. All Mandirs, kirtan groups, and Pandits were in attendance.
Winner of the motorcade are: 1st Place Natya Tillakam Dance Company, 2nd Place Indo Caribbean Foundation, 3rd Place Operation Dream Catchers and Best Booth went to Save Abee Foundation.