Nov. 8, 2018 Staff Report
Two huge “Festival of Lights” events are set to illuminate Flushing this weekend.
The Flushing Town Hall will host “Diwali Festival: Kathak, Bhangra & Beyond” on Saturday, Nov. 10. The Queens Museum will present “Diwali Celebration” on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Both events will feature dancing, music, chanting, colorful saris, and many, many candles.
The Diwali Festival at the Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., will begin with a performance by Kathak dancer Abha Bhatnagar Roy at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The word “Kathak” translates from Hindi to English as “Conversation,” and this ancient Northern Indian art form involves communicating stories through movements, footwork, and facial expressions. Roy will offer “Parvati-Putra,” a re-telling of the birth of Ganesh, a Hindu deity with an elephant head. (Local seventh-grader Puja Singh will star as Ganesh.)
Then, DJ Rekha, a Queens College graduate who has forged a successful NYC night club career by mixing South Asian bhangra with hip-hop, dance hall and electric sounds, will host a dance party.
Henna painting, rangoli (decorative design) workshops, and cooking demonstrations by Nupur Arora, owner of Queens Curry Kitchen, are also scheduled for the event. General admission is $20, but students and children can attend for $10 each.
Then, on Sunday at 1 p.m., it will be time for the Diwali Celebration at the Queens Museum, located in the NYC Building in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The Hindu Temple Society of North America, which is commonly known as the “Flushing Ganesh Temple,” is the co-host of this three-hour program, which will begin with a children’s workshop on painting oil lamps called “diyas.” Usually made from clay, diyas are staples of Indian festivals, including those of the Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Zoroastrian faiths.
A presentation of traditional folk dances from the Western India states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, Garba and Dandiya, will follow. They might include a mock fight between deities wearing heavy jewelry. Then, participants will light 3,000 candles and place them throughout the museum. General admission is $8.
Diwali – which is also spelled “Deepãvali” — is an annual ritual dedicated to Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Light. For many believers, it’s the most positive time of year, when good triumphs over evil, hope over despair, and wisdom over ignorance.
It coincides with the dark moon that occurs in October or November, and some historians believe that it began as a harvest festival. Others claim it has roots in Lakshmi’s wedding to Lord Vishnu.