New Yorkers got to experience Diwali at the Crossroads of the World, Times Square on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Even Covid-19 couldn’t put a damper on one of the biggest celebrations in New York City’s iconic Times Square where Diwali was celebrated with pomp and festivity, albeit in a slightly different format.
A unique digital presentation with a massive lighted billboard changing images symbolic of the Festival of Lights, in an attempt to capture the pomp and festivity of this joyous celebration, captured the hearts and minds of thousands who watched and joined in the celebrationbs from around the world. The event was organized by EventGuru Inc., an event management company in the Tristate area.
The event was attended in-person by several dignitaries, including Consul General of India in New York Randhir Jaiswal, who inaugurated the festival. Among others who joined the event were Kamal Raul, regional manager, Air India, V. Senthur Kumaran, assistant director, India Tourism, as well as community supporters and the media. Several entertainers from India and the U.S. performed for the digital Diwali celebrations at Times Square Nov. 13 and 14, 2020.
A message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also shared at the event. Also displayed on the tallest tower – where the New Year Eve ball drop ceremony takes places – were congratulatory and Diwali wishes for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Diwali greetings from the Consulate of India in New York and some community organizations.
“You have witnessed a whole new version of Diwali at Times Square this year. The ongoing pandemic has made us all realize that certain things can be felt and enjoyed even while being at home,” said Neeta Bhasin, president of the event management company, EventGuru Inc., and the brains behind the Diwali at Times Square festival. “With your support, we still managed to light up a diya on the tallest screen in Times Square and are celebrating Diwali with viewers from not only the USA but around the world!”
The celebration continued on the social media handles of Times Square through Nov. 14, the day of Diwali, which included a virtual musical concert Nov. 13 titled, ‘Colors of India.’
On Nov. 14, the celebration culminated with a virtual ‘Light-Up Times Square’ concert with renowned Indian performers such as Padma Shri Usha Uthup, Hamsika Iyer, Merlin D’Souza, Pritha Majumder, Jankee and Sunita Bhuyan.
Diwali at Times Square, said a press release, will be contributing 10 percent of the proceeds of the ‘diya lighting’ sponsorship to musicians in India who are going through a difficult time due to the pandemic.
Diwali greetings were also relayed over the huge billboards. Indian American Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris was also represented, followed by Diwali greetings from the Consulate of India, NY, Air India, Eye Foundation of America. Celebrities and various other community organizations were displayed on the tallest tower of Times Square, the tower where the December 31st New Year’s ball drop ceremony takes place. A live feed for global viewers and on social media platforms featured some renowned musicians from the USA and India, a press release from EventGuru said.
Diwali at Times Square has been increasing its audience since its inception in 2013. This New York City Diwali celebration usually draws a big crowd and features a diya (lamp) lighting ceremony accompanied by a New Year’s Eve style countdown featured on the tallest Times Square digital screen, followed by a host of rousing concerts. This year, though, because of Covid-19, no in-person gatherings were allowed but Diwali was still celebrated with as much gusto in spirit with the digital diya lighting set to a countdown and a live virtual musical concert for global viewers. Those interested can watch Diwali at Times Square special shows on the various social media handles:
‘Neeta Bhasin Show’ YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxOgeG8CPnZPd6y02Wvwqfg