Chicago IL: The Indian-American Community Outreach Advisory Board, in collaboration with the City of Aurora, the second most populous town in the State of Illinois, next to Chicago, hosted the second edition of Diwali festival, which was free and open to the public, on Saturday, October 24th, 2015, from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM, at Waubonsie Valley High School, 2590 Ogden Avenue.
The unique feature of the event was the enthusiastic participation of thousands of people, which included not only a large chunk of people from India but also a considerable number of their counterparts from different nationalities and religions. Quite a few Non-Indians too, who were seen awe-struck, enjoyed the festivities.
Aurora’s third-term Mayor, Tom Weisner paid rich tributes to the professional contribution of Indian-Americans to the growth trajectory of the Aurora city. “The Indian-American community is very important to the fabric and culture of the USA. It adds music, food, and dance, which make Aurora a more enjoyable place to live”, he added.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India in Chicago said that Diwali, on account of its universal message of triumph of righteousness over evil, has emerged as a global festival and is being celebrated across the world. “Diwali is celebrated in the White House too. President Barack Obama is the first President who personally attended Diwali celebrations at the White House”, he added.
Congressman Bill Foster, who represents the 11th Congressional District of Illinois in the US House of Representatives, said that Diwali reminds us of the importance of the shared multi-cultural American experience. State Representative Linda Chapa Lavia said: “There is a need for more and more events like Diwali so that we represent all the colors that make us a beautiful and diverse State”. State Representative Stephanie Kifowit opined that participation in the festivals of different communities provide an opportunity to understand different cultures.
The event was attended by many more elected officials, including Alderman Mervine, Alderman Johnson, Alderman Bugg, Alderman Hart-Burns, Alderman Mesiacos, DuPage County Board Members, 204 School District Board Members, and several others. “Aurora, known as the ‘City of Lights’, with a multi-cultural presence is best-suited to host Diwali, India’s ‘Festival of Lights’”, said Krishna Bansal, Chairman, Aurora Indian-American Community Outreach Advisory Board.
“Diwali, which symbolizes victory of light over darkness, has assumed much greater relevance in the present-day world, characterized by widespread cultural degeneration, and, therefore, should be celebrated by one and all, irrespective of religion and region”, added Bansal.
The celebrations featured not only the diversity of India’s culture, ethnic jewelry, rare handicrafts, distinct costumes, and interesting games for children but also highlighted the contributions of Indian-Americans, locally and nationally.
The dancers not only showcased their ability to perform different genres of dances but also conveyed a gamut of emotions. Their sculpted postures, graceful moves, and incredible “abhinaya” (actions and postures expressive of sentiments) captured everyone’s heart.
The singers presented classical, semi-classical, and light music, both from Bollywood and Tollywood movies. Their melodious songs not only uplifted the mood of the audience but also ignited the air with the magic of romance.
The cultural program proved to be a magnate that brought the artists together. The dancers, singers, mentors, and orchestra, despite their different backgrounds, not only worked together as a team but also presented a spectacular show.
Food was a central part of the festivities. The unique cuisines from different regions added to the multi-faceted flavor of the event. “Even though extremely spicy, I liked the food items very much. I am tempted to taste them, again and again”, said a Non-Indian.
The festival concluded with a magnificent fireworks display. Everyone present clapped and cheered as green and red rockets lit up the skyline of the city. “Our children were so much mesmerized by the fireworks that we found it too difficult to pull them out of venue, despite being late in the night”, stated a number of parents.
Bansal thanked the high-profile guests, all the participants, sponsors, Advisory Board Members, media representatives, community organizations, management of the Waubonsie Valley High School, and the army of self-motivated volunteers for their support in making the event a formidable success.
Sanjog Aul conducted the proceedings of the festival as the MC. Diwali, which is India’s largest festival, is celebrated by decorating homes with oil lamps and intricate rangolis (colorful designs), lighting firecrackers, and above all, exchanging gifts.