North Carolina housed a spectacular showcase of lights on Saturday as thousands joined at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary to celebrate Diwali, the ancient Hindu festival of lights.
During Diwali, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and hope over despair, observers often light lamps, candles, and fireworks for a dazzling display. Typically, the festival is honored for five continuous days, leaving the third night as the main Diwali festival as it often coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika.
Traditionally marked as a time for families to come together, Saturday evening offered families, guests, and curious onlookers alike a wide array of activities, including dance and cuisine, at no cost. Garbed in customary dress, people of all ages took to the stage to perform, while others enjoyed savory dishes like biryani, dosas made from rice batter and black lentils, tandoori chicken, and sweet treats like milk-based gulab jamun. This year, the celebration’s theme was Aapo Deepo Bhava – “Be alight unto yourself” – and focused on contributions made others, especially among youth.
Over the years, Cary has increasingly become a more diverse location. According to census reports, the town has seen its population of people with origins in India more than double since 2000 and is often described as the “Triangle’s Little India.” The Cary News reports that the growth is mostly due to the proximity to Research Triangle Park and the multinational tech and pharmaceutical companies.
“The New York community is much bigger, but they are more spread out,” Naren Bhardwa, who used to reside in New York City, told the Cary News. “They are all over the place there.”
For most attendees, Saturday’s event was all about exposure to the colorful culture, serving as a means for experience and knowledge, when booking a fight to Diwali’s homeland of India isn’t as readily accessible.
“I love to expose my kids to other cultures and I can’t always take them to those places,” Jodi Wilden told the publication. “I think it’s important to share other cultures.”
And since it’s the festival’s 14th year in action in Cary, it seems that others agree. Jennifer Koach, a cultural arts program specialist with Cary, explained on Saturday, “Part of our goal is to celebrate the diversity.”
As different nooks around the world, from India to the United States, to England, begin their own Diwali celebrations, Cary’s was a remarkably brilliant start.
A Happy Diwali to all!