Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz praised the Asian community, at the third Annual Diwali — festival of lights — celebration, at the municipal building in Kew Gardens, Queens last Friday.
The politician congratulated citizens, and thanked the Diwali committed for their selfless work in the community during the evening’s festivities that honored five leaders for their outstanding work.
Deputy Borough President Melva Miller presented Binrowtie Angelini, Gouranga Kundu, Ramaswamy Mohan, Anup Ramnauth, and Pandit Tillackdharry Seerattan with citations.
While acknowledged the beauty of the traditions of Diwali, passed down to generations of children, Katz noted the significant role youth play in the celebrations.
“Its a remarkable thing to live next to folks who celebrate in different ways, from religion to dress, all of these things we care deeply about, she said, adding that these traditions are passed on freely, vocally, and actively, to our children.”
I am honored to be here today. I am glad that you have accepted me as a small part of your community. I would like to thank the honorees. It is our privileged that you agreed to be honored, said Katz who added that she is also honored to be a part of a borough where 130 languages are spoken and 120 countries, represented.
“I want to thank you for putting your faith in me. On behalf of the 2.3 million citizens, I am proud to represent you, thanks for your dedication” said the politician, while extending warm Happy Diwali, greetings to the audience.
Consul General of Guyana to New York, the Hon. Barbara Atherly, in turn reminded celebrants of the power of light that dispel evil.
“As we celebrate this beautiful festival, lets think of the legends that surrounds this festival. Let us be inspired by the underlying principles of Diwali, which is, light will always overcome darkness, Happy Diwali and let us not just celebrate on this day, but let the principles go with you for the rest of the year, in unity and love, said the diplomat.
Greeting the audience, Consul General of Trinidad and Tobago, NY, Urvashi Ramnairen, said, like the Borough of Queens, Trinidad & Tobago is a cosmopolitan society where Diwali is celebrated each year by a quarter of a million people, and has been a national holiday since 1966, celebrated by Hindus and believers of other faiths.
“Diwali is a time of celebration not only for the victory of good over evil, but also knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair, it is a time of renewal of one’s faith, and fellowship with family and friends.”
“It is with this spirit that I extend to you the Trinidad and Tobago diaspora and the Hindu and Sikh community in Queens, best wishes for tonight’s celebrations. I would like to congratulate the activists honored tonight, thank you, Should Diwali and Namaste, said Consul General Ramnarine.
The festivities which began with prayer and lighting of the Diya (a lamp) by Pandits Shymal Chakraborty, Mahesh Joshi, and Tilakdharry Seerattan, highlighted the rich colorful culture with a dance choreography, by the kids of the American Bangali Hindu Foundation.
Bhajans — musical presentations — by Virendra Banker of the Bruhad New York Seniors, the Shiva Mandir Cultural Group, and The Young Indian Cultural Group brought together a splendid afternoon of joy and happiness, and commemorated with flavorful Indian food.
Guyanese-born, Mohamed Hack of the Queens Borough President’s office played an active role in the Diwali presentation, in collaboration with the Hindu Temple of Society of North America, the Federation of Hindu Mandirs, Jain Temple and others.