By Mark Hallum
Forest Hills will have its own Diwali festival for the community to celebrate Autumn Nov. 3.
Organized by the Forest Hills Asian Association and the Queens Library, the Hindu festival of lights will say goodbye to the warmer months with cultural music and food.
The festival will take place in the Forest Hills Library branch — located at 108-19 71st Ave. — starting at 2 p.m. and will be free to the public.
“We’ve held a variety of events over the years and one of the things we wanted to try to do is have a Diwali event,” said Edwin Wong, the main organizer of the event. “There is a south Asian demographic in the Forest Hills area and people have been asking about [having a Diwali festival].”
Gaurav Venkateswar, a south Asian musician raised in the Chicago area, will perform at the event playing music strongly influenced by Indian classical as well as western classical music on piano.
Venkateswar is known as a founding member of Chai Town, an Indian American a cappella group from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which mixes south Asian styles of music with western.
Although the venue will be small and the celebration limited to electric lights only, being an indoor event with fire code restrictions, Wong hopes the Diwali event will become an important cultural staple in the community.
Diwali officially falls on Nov. 7, but usually takes place between mid-October and mid-November, and is officially recognized by not only Hindus but Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs as well.
The autumn festival is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts marking one of the darkest nights of year which coincides with the new moon and celebrates the victory of light over darkness by brightly illuminating homes, temples, offices and streets by firelight.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall