Flushing Town Hall to host eighth annual Diwali Festival

Flushing Town Hall
Flushing Town Hall’s Nov. 5 Diwali celebration will feature a rangoli art competition and display, a dance party and performances, and delicious Indian cuisine. (Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall)

Flushing Town Hall is welcoming audiences of all ages and cultures to celebrate its eighth annual Diwali Festival on Sunday, Nov. 5. The event will feature a rangoli art competition and display, a dance party, special performances and delicious Indian cuisine. 

Anyone can purchase in-person tickets to attend the festival for either the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. show or the 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. show at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. The festival will also be streamed live on YouTube to serve global audiences. 

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, 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. It 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 celebrated by all groups regardless of religious affiliation as a time of renewal and growth. 

“We are excited to celebrate Diwali with our audiences, to welcome new performers, and to display the great Rangoli submissions we’ve received through our competition this year,” said Gabrielle Hamilton, director of education and public programs at Flushing Town Hall. “We will be selecting artwork in five categories (kids, teenagers, adults, seniors, and professional artists) and displaying their winning designs along our exterior fence along Northern Boulevard.”

The festival will include traditional rangoli design with artist Anju Gupta, Indian foods with Queens Curry Kitchen, and ayurvedic treatments with Shweta Parmar, and live performances. 

Flushing Town Hall will present the artwork of the winners of its Rangoli Design Competition. Rangoli is an age-old art form from India. Derived from a Sanskrit word meaning “rows of colors,” rangoli is a celebratory Hindu art form usually drawn in homes or courtyards with the hope of inviting blessings from the gods. 

Abha Roy, a master teaching artist and artistic director of the Srijan Dance Company, will share the stage with IMGE: Ishita Mili Global Exposé for a performance rooted in Indian classical, hip-hop, and contemporary dance. Attendees can also enjoy a dance party with instruction on traditional moves from Roy, a Kathak classical dancer, and Ishita Mili, a Bharatanatyam dancer. 

Roy has led the Flushing Town Hall Diwali Festival since its beginnings. A master of Kathak dance, she studied under the guidance of the late great Guru Kundan Lal Gangani and attained professional precision under the training of Pt. Durgalal when she completed her specialization in Kathak Kendra, New Delhi. She represented the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and has taught and performed in South America, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago. She has also performed throughout Europe and at venues such as Lincoln Center and the Queens Museum, among others. 

Roy lost her beloved husband and creative partner, Sandeep Roychowdhury, to COVID in June of 2021, when he contracted the illness while on a trip to India to help care for family, and she dedicated last year’s festival to his memory and their love.

The Ishita Mili Global Exposé, founded by Mili, is a dance company using Indian classical moves (like the mudras hand gestures), as well as hip-hop and contemporary dance vocabularies to tell new and powerful global stories. IMGE transcends regional and cultural boundaries by creating an encompassing dance language that can speak to anyone.

“We are so fortunate to work with the talented Abha Roy, who has helped our community to heal and experience joy again—even as she’s navigated her own painful loss,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall. “We are a resilient community, and I look forward to the delicious smells, lively dancing, and vibrant colors soon to fill our Hall for Diwali.” 

The Rangoli competition is accepting submissions through Oct. 21.  A jury will select one winner in each group, who in addition to having their work displayed, will receive free, one-year memberships to Flushing Town Hall and pairs of tickets to any upcoming programs of their choice. For submission instructions, visit: flushingtownhall.org/rangoli-competition

In-person tickets are $15 and $10 for members of Flushing Town Hall and children. Tickets must be purchased in advance; they will not be available at the door. Virtual tickets are $7 and $5 for members. Visit flushingtownhall.org/diwali-festival for more details and to purchase tickets.

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