Diwali will be observed on Oct. 27 this year, but the celebration of the Festival of Lights will continue at Flushing Town Hall’s fifth annual day-long Diwali celebration filled with dance, music and traditional Indian cuisine on Saturday, Nov. 2.
The Diwali Festival will include cooking workshops, dance lessons, family-friendly activities such as henna painting, a jewelry workshop, and Indian fashions and games.
“Diwali is a festive time of gift-giving, charity and sharing in feasts with loved ones,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall. “We are excited to continue this tradition for the fifth time at Flushing Town Hall and to provide an experience that fills all senses: musical performances, classical dance, traditional food, henna painting, fashion and much more.”
Diwali, or Deepavali, comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “row of lights.” It is a day of solidarity, where the soft light of diyas – or oil-wick candles – illuminate streets and homes, banishing the darkness of ignorance and suffering. Diwali began as a part of an ancient harvest festival, which celebrated the fertility of the earth and prosperity of the new harvest. Though Diwali has taken on a significant meaning in Hinduism, in India it is still celebrated by all groups regardless of religious affiliation as a time of renewal and growth.
The three-hour celebration will feature DJ Rekha — a London-born, Flushing-raised musician, DJ, producer, curator and activist. She has been credited with pioneering Bhangra music in North America, a dance and genre of music originating from the state of Punjab in India.
“Diwali is a celebration of light over dark, and I want people to experience the jubilance of dancing to festive music. This event is especially dear to me because I spent kindergarten to fourth grade, and then my college years, in Flushing so it always feels like a homecoming,” said Rekha, who has performed at the Obama White House and internationally. “It is also great that it is during the day and the audience is all ages. I will be spinning a variety of bhangra, Bollywood and global beats with the aid of a dancer to engage the audience with a dance lesson. The collaboration with Abha Roy is also a way to bring storytelling, music and dancing together for the finale.”
Roy, a master Indian dancer along with the Srijan Dance Center will present traditional kathak dance dramas. Prior to the performance, each artist will introduce guests to their form and learn Kathak dance moves and Bhangra folk dances mixed with hip-hop.
“I want everyone to share the feeling by participating in dance, crafts and Indian food workshops. I hope everyone will take back home some color of happiness in the form of henna in their hands,” Roy said. “I want guests to experience the ‘urge to merge for global peace,’ classical dance and music beyond boundaries.”
Guests will also be treated to traditional Indian dishes from Nupur Arora, owner of Queens Curry Kitchen. Arora will cook mouth-watering authentic Indian dishes, including chickpea biryani, broccoli stuffed flatbread boondi raita (chickpea and yogurt).
“They will see firsthand how easy it is to replicate flavorful cooking at home without buying a million ingredients,” Arora said. “At the end of the day, it is an important time of year for Hindu’s around the world, with open hearts, open homes and platters full of delicious homemade food and confections. As immigrants, we don’t have as much time as our mothers had, but we can do whatever possible to recreate some of the joy by sharing it with other people from all faiths.”
Samosas, paneer tikka, laddoo and chai will be served for sale. Additionally, Marriellen Nya Abba Gittens will demonstrate traditional Indian beading and her work will be sold at the celebration; and Shamsum Elite will share her Indian fashions.
The event runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. in Flushing.
Tickets are available for $20 to the public, $15 for members, $10 for students and children. Teens can get in for free. Tickets are available at www.flushingtownhall.org.
Additionally, Flushing Town Hall will hold two school shows for grades four to eight on Friday, Nov. 1, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. To make reservations, call 718-463-7700 ext. 224 or email [email protected]