Spicy Indian treats, cultural shows, a colorful street fair, and foreworks were only some of the highlights of the annual South Street Seaport Deepavali festival in downtown New York on Sunday, October 2nd. As always, the occasion was a magnet for the Indian community in this neighborhood. It is amazing that Diwali is celebrated in such a big way in New York.
The Association of Indians in America, NY Chapter (#AIA-NY) held its annual 29th Deepavali Festival at the South Street Seaport in New York City on Sunday October 2nd, 2016 from 12 noon till 7pm, culminating with a spectacular display of Live Fireworks. This event is one of the largest in the tri-state area, attracting approximately 75,000 – 100,000 people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
The top attraction at the event was South Asian star Mickey Singh who performed live amid thunderous applause, especially by girls and young women who gathered by the hundreds to watch his show and danced around the open-air makeshift stage as Singh sang some of his popular Punjabi numbers. “The atmosphere on the ground turned electric as Singh called on stage one woman to dance along with his songs,” said H.P. Singh, an attendee to the event, describing the scene.
A big draw at the event was the highly sought-after, inter-collegiate dance competition, called ‘Naach Inferno’, showcasing dances fusing both East and West cultures. On another side of the venue people made a beeline to see and get autographs of Neel Sethi of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” fame who was one of the guests of honor.
The event was a full-day extravaganza, celebrating Indian tradition and culture along with food. There were numerous food and clothing vendors, corporate booths, and children’s area and health kiosks. The Kotak Mahindra stall drew a big crowd as it organized a raffle for children in which Sethi picked up the winner.
The organizers explained why they jumped the gun with their event while the actual festival of lights is still nearly three weeks away. “We’re living in the West. In the West, we have to keep in mind the weather, people’s convenience. It can only be on a Sunday,” says Arish K Sahani of the Association of Indians in America. “And we felt weather was okay only on the first Sunday in October. We have to have it on the day the city gives us the permit. We have to get a permit and we have to block the date way in advance,” he adds.
And what’s Deepavali without fireworks? Indians in this country can’t light fireworks at their doorstep like they do back home, but the spectacular finale to the event more than made up for that. When there’s food and music on the ground and sparkling fireworks in the sky, it doesn’t really matter if you’re in New Delhi or in New York – the festive spirit is the same for Indians everywhere.
Deepavali, which means ‘A row of lamps’ is also popularly known as Diwali, or ‘Festival of Lights’ and signifies thetriumph of ‘Good over Evil’. North America’s biggest Urban South Asian star Mickey Singh performed LIVE alongside DJ Ice. Withover half a million fans online and releases under some of the biggest labels such as Eros International, TSeries,Zee Music & Speed Records to name a few, Mickey Singh is definitely a treat to watch on stage.
Hollywood’s newest and youngest star, Neel Sethi of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” was on stage meeting and interacting with audiences at the Children’s Area. USA’s premier and largest Indian dance academy, Arya International made sure the entire audience learns some Bollywood moves and participates in our Open Dance Floor! Numerous local performing arts schools and academies showcased their talents on the two stages throughout the day.
This year, Deepavali also marked the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. There was a special tribute for Gandhiji along with an Essay & Drawing Competition for the youth to showcase the importance and meaning of Peace. The event culminated with a VIP Hour which was attended by top officials of New York and many other dignitaries.
This year, support from sponsors such as CheapOAir.com, Qatar Airways, Toyota, Pepsi, New York Life, SwanClub, MoneyGram, Kotak Mahindra, New York Life, HAB Bank, Navika Capital, Star Plus, Sony Entertainment,Jus Punjabi, TV Asia amongst many others have helped made this event possible.
The Association of Indians in America (AIA) is one of the oldest not-for-profit organization of Asian Indians inAmerica founded on August 20, 1967. It is the grassroots national organization of Asian immigrants in theUnited States. With chapters and membership spread across the United States of America, AIA represents thehopes and aspirations of those immigrants who are united by their common bond of Indian Heritage andAmerican Commitment. For more info, visit atwww.theaiany.org.