AAPI Montclair, the Montclair Art Museum to host the first-ever community-wide celebration of Diwali
By DIEGO JESUS ââBARTESAGHI MENA
On October 16, Montclair will light up for the day of its first community celebration of Diwali, marked by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists.
Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, celebrates the New Year and the light on darkness,good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
AAPI Montclair, which represents Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Montclair Art Museum, with co-sponsor Montclair Local News, will host âLight Up Montclairâ at the museum, located at 3 South Mountain Ave., in noon to 3 p.m.
âWe were looking for things that we could celebrate about different aspects of our culture,â said Linda Kow, co-founder of Montclair AAPI. âThat’s not to say the celebrations weren’t happening, but they were smaller within our own communities. ”
The event is a way to showcase the experience of the South Asian community and to celebrate Asian cultural festivals by bringing together Montclairians.
Julie Kim, also co-founder of Montclair AAPI, said, âPeople crave relationships, family events, and I think cultural vacations and events like this really showcase the diversity of Montclair and also the inclusive nature of Montclair. And that’s why we thought it was so important to us that this event be a community-wide event.
Kow said another reason to celebrate Diwali in a community setting relates to the rise in anti-Asian violence over the past year. The event, Kow said, is a way to educate people about the Asian American and South Asian community and its customs.
“This is another of our attempts to make ourselves more visible, to make ourselves better known and to educate the community at large about who we are,” she said. âBecause we believe, I mean, that the way to avoid some of the anti-Asian hatred and misunderstanding is through education and spreading our ideas. Not only where there is a tragedy that strikes our community, but also by sharing our joy and our celebrations.
The religious significance of Diwali varies by region. Sumeet Kapoor, one of the organizers of the event, said the mythology of Diwali dates back to Prince Rama’s return to the kingdom of Ayodhya in India after 14 years in exile. The inhabitants of the kingdom and the surrounding villages lit oil lamps to show him the way home.
âAnd over the years, Diwali is essentially the celebration of light over darkness. It’s our new year, âsaid Kapoor. âFamilies come together. ”
Kapoor said Diwali is celebrated for five days. Families thoroughly clean their homes, decorate, bake sweets and desserts for friends and family, and bring gifts to children, among other things.
Sri Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, abundance, and well-being, is the main deity worshiped, and people light up the exterior of their homes for Lakshmi to visit.
Varsha Hathiramani, another organizer of the event, said, âWe pray to Goddess Lakshmi, and she is for wealth as well as for health. So we definitely want to do it. There are a lot of prayers that go with it.
Kapoor and Hathiramani both grew up celebrating Diwali and have fond memories of it. They, along with AAPI Montclair, want the community to experience this celebration.
The event, which will be held outside on the museum’s lawn, will feature crafts for children, food vendors and henna artists. State Assembly Member Raj Mukherji (D-33) will speak on a new invoice integrate the history of AAPI into the K-12 curriculum.
âHe got enough support to get a full vote,â Kow said. âThis is something that we at AAPI Montclair and many other organizations also support. So we will also discuss it, which I think is very important. ”
For activities, children can create rangoli patterns, which are decorations usually drawn on the floor or the entrances of houses and thoughts to bring good luck and prosperity. They can also decorate the diyas, small terracotta pots, which are the main symbols of Diwali.
For older audiences, Indian board printing and batik painting, a textile technique that uses wax and dye to create patterns on a piece of fabric, will be offered. Henna artists will charge a small fee for a hand drawing.
âThere will be classical dance and music, and we will have fun in Bollywood dancing, which I think people are more aware of because of our films,â Kapoor said. âWe have a wonderful South Asian author, Sheetal Sheth, who will be reading her second children’s book. Sheth will bring copies of his book to sell.
The Montclair Public Library will also join the event, bringing books by South Asian authors.
And Aalok Mehta, actor, producer and interdisciplinary musician, will perform.
âIt will be a great community event, trying to include everyone in something for everyone,â Hathiramani said.
Tickets, at $ 5, are on sale online on the AAPI Montclair website at aapimontclair.org/diwali-2021. Limited fee waivers will be available on the day of the event for those unable to pay. Masks will be required, along with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within three days.
The rainy date will be October 17th.