FIA Diwali Festival lights up heart of Bay Area

18Photo Credit: YoIndiaTV

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

FREMONT: Diwali Festival lighted up Newpark Mall, Newark Bay Area’s popular shopping destination, Newpark Mall, Newark in the heart of Bay area and transformed into a vision of South Asian culture October 19, as thousands of revelers gathered for an early celebration of the Hindu festival of lights. It was attended by thousands of Indian Americans and other Bay Area residents.17

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the biggest and most important holiday in India. It lasts for five days, and coincides with the Hindu New Year. Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs celebrate the religious occasion every autumn in countries throughout South Asia and beyond.

Diwali marks the time of the year when Hindus symbolically cast away evil and invite good and prosperity with the lighting of lamps and candles. Where darkness represents evil to Hindus, lighting the lamp is a metaphor for the attainment of knowledge and symbolizes the destruction of negative attitudes and behaviors.

Federation of Indo-Americans of Northern California hosted its Annual Diwali Festival at the Newpark mall October 19 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., culminating in a spectacular musical performance by Bollywood singer of SaReGaMa fame Shilpi Paul who enthralled the gathering for three hours. A dance competition too was held which was sponsored by US Bank.

A beautiful day attracted large number of visitors to the Diwali fair which has earned the reputation of being one of the most anticipated events of the Indian American community’s annual list of attractions.

6“The turnout was phenomenal,” said Dr. Romesh Japra, Chairman of FIA. The event was attended by a wide array of people from different walks of life, age groups and backgrounds and coming from various parts of the Bay area and surrounding counties.

The FIA attempts to bridge the gap in the community with events such as Deepavali that bring the community together. The festival was a day of celebration with numerous corporate booths, food and clothing vendors, performances and activities for the entire family, including a live grand and spectacular display of fireworks, said Dr Japra.

US Bank, Bank of the West, Air India, Hotstar, Sterling Bank & Trust, Astro Vastu solution’s Vaneet Sharma, Anthem Realty, Young Explorers, Keen learners Montessori, Young Champions, PG&E, State Farm, Visitors Guru, Gurus Education, SLT Foods, Shan Masala, Keller Williams, Girija Chawla, Bharat Bazaar, Newyork Life, Spectrum financial group, and My Mother’s Hug were the sponsors for this event.4

The action-packed day started with the dance competition and Ram Leela. The performers, dressed in bold colors with ornate decorations, executed precise movements as they moved to the beat.

The event also hosted a Mithai competition where participants from age seven to 64 showed their culinary talent. It was coordinated by Ritu Khurana.

Over 120 dance groups participated in the competition and it was coordinated by Jyotsna Bendapudi Sharma, FOG, Cultural Chair.

“As a Federation of Indian Association FIA/FOG cultural chair, hosting and organizing thousands of kids/adults dance competitions and performances, giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent is a blessing and every team has done outstanding dances, it’s a treat to the eyes,” said Sharma.

10“My passion for art (acting and dancing) drives me to do all these community events.”

Commenting on the success of the Festival, Rajesh Verma, President of the FIA, said, “This is our way of passing on the torch of our pride in our traditions to the future generations of Indian-American youth.”

This flagship event of FIA attracts tens of thousands of Bay Area residents every year. They also say the event is considered by far the largest attraction for Indian Americans from around the Bay Area, It is a way to showcase Indian ideals and cultural values and traditions.

“We will do our part to educate our children and impress upon them the need to keep our culture and traditions.” Deepak Chhabra, Chair, parade of FIA, stated in a press release.