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Photos courtesy of Lakshmee Singh
Photos courtesy of Lakshmee Singh

It’s Lakshmi time.

Diwali Motorcade 2016 will saturate Richmond Hill’s “Little Guyana” section with burning pyres, candles, oil lamps, and incense on Saturday, Oct. 22, as well as ornately adorned automobiles, brightly decorated floats, colorful clothes, and sparkling jewelry.

Organized by the Divya Jyoti Association of New York, this 17th annual ritual celebrates Diwali, a Hindu word which roughly translates into English as “row of lamps.” For many believers, it’s the most positive time of year, when good triumphs over evil, knowledge overcomes ignorance, and hope prevails over despair.

Diwali is a national holiday in countries with large Hindu populations, such as Guyana, India, Nepal, and Trinidad and Tobago. (Some Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs celebrate it, too.)

The Queens program begins with a “Hawan” at the Arya Spiritual Center Grounds at 104-20 133rd St. at 3 p.m. Dedicated to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Light, this outdoor religious ceremony illuminates the soul with chanting, dancing, drumming, and fire rituals. Visitors can explore booths decorated with Hindu deities, incense, offerings, food, and plenty of henna.

As time passes, the ornate floats — carrying singers, dancers, and children dressed in colorful saris — will gather in the vicinity of Liberty Avenue and 133rd Street for the motorcade. At about 5:30 p.m., they will slowly roll down Liberty Avenue as Tassa drummers prance beside them. Then at about 6 p.m., the ceremony will culminate with a stage show during which local artists sing, dance, and perform skits.


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