In Hindi, “dhamaka” means “bang,” and the word can refer to a party thrown with a big bang. Northside Library pulled off such a feat with its Diwali Dhamaka Party on Nov. 7. The event dazzled over 1,500 visitors with a magic show, classical Indian dancing and music, storytelling, henna artistry, crafts, and a Bollywood Boogie. A lunar holiday, Diwali landed on Nov. 11 this year.
Subhadwa Aysola, who attended the Diwali Party, explained the roles of the Indian god Rama and Krishna in the origins of Diwali.
“Diwali is the celebration of when Rama came home after he killed a monster named Ravana,” Aysola says. “There was another monster named Narakasura who didn’t let people turn on their lights. Krishna killed him with the help of his wife, Satea. So that’s why we celebrate Diwali by turning on our lights and eating lots of desserts.”
“The translation of Diwali is the Festival of Lights, one of the biggest Hindi and South Asian festivals you can celebrate,” says Cheryl Lee, Northside Library’s branch manager and program coordinator. “My two staff members Lavanya Venguideshe and Sangeetha Janagam are co-leading this program with me.”
Venguideshe explains that to celebrate the feelings of happiness associated with Diwali, many Indians light up their homes using diyas, which are small clay lamps.
“[In our homes], we add oil in the diya and then we add a piece of thread and we light up the thread,” Venguidesh says. “[At the library], we asked children to color the diyas. We also had cut outs of hands and we asked the kids to draw their own henna tattoos on them.”
Magician Amazing Vijay kicked off the afternoon with magic tricks. Roopa Suresh from Karadi Tales read aloud from a Diwali-themed picture book.
The classical Indian show was an event highlight. Abhinaya Shankar moved her body gracefully while demonstrating traditional and contemporary Indian dancing, including a routine with an elaborate peacock costume. A children’s choir sat on the ground to perform classical Indian songs. A young boy named Atharv Joshi created smooth beats with his tabla, a pair of Indian drums. According to Lee, the small drum on the right is the called the dayan while the larger drum on the left side is the bayan.
As the sun went down, visitors gathered outside the library for the Bollywood Boogie. DJ Kevin played popular Bollywood tunes, such as “Saturday Saturday” and “It’s the Time to Disco.” Lee, Venguideshe and Janagam cheerfully led the crowd in Bollywood dance moves like “raising the roof” and “twisting the light bulb.”