On Saturday, Oct. 22, Northside Library celebrated its second annual Diwali Dhamaka to recognize Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights at the end of October. “Dhamaka,” a Hindi word for” bang” hints at the thrills of a big celebration. Events at the library during the Diwali Dhamaka included Bollywood dancing and music, a magic show by Amasingh the Magician and a short presentation of the story of Diwali.
“Diwali is a celebration of the festival of lights,” says Lavanya Venguideshe, library page and event co-organizer. “Diwali comes from a story about Ram. Ram was exiled from his kingdom by one of his father’s wives for 14 years. When he left, he went with [his wife] Sita and his brother Lakshman. A demoness wanted to marry Ram or Lakshman, but they both turned her down. Her brother, Ravana, was mad and kidnapped Sita. Ram killed Ravana and returned home with Sita and Lakshman after 14 years. The people celebrated their return by lighting lamps and fireworks. This is why we celebrate Diwali.”
The day culminated with twelve cultural performances in the “Indian’s Got Talent Show.” Open to participants of all ages, the performers were all children and teens. Two community members judged the performances on creativity, originality and how closely each act mirrored South Asian culture.
Shaanvi Mahesh, 8, a student at Stratford School, was the winner of the talent show’s grand prize, a $50 Amazon gift card. Mahesh diligently spun a hula hoop around her waist while dancing to a spirited North Indian Hindi song.
“It took me one week to practice for the talent show,” Mahesh says. “I like hula hooping because I love to dance. I’m happy to win and will buy a Halloween costume for myself and my sister with the prize money.”
Shreyan Mitra, 11, a student at Peterson Middle School, showed his attention to rhythm while he played the tabla, an Indian drum.
“I have been playing for five years,” Mitra says. “I was playing a tabla bowl and it was supposed to sound like Diwali fireworks.”
Also at the talent show was a lively coordinated dance quartet coached by local dance teacher Rucha Joshi.
“I teach dance and my styles include semi-classical, folk and Bollywood style dancing,” Joshi says. “The girls were dancing to the song ‘Pinga’ and they were performing Maharashtrian folk dance from a state in India called Maharashtra. This dance is danced at the Maharashtrian festivals, which celebrate marriage, long life and family.”
“There are many talented people here in the area and we want to highlight some of their talents at the library,” says Cheryl Lee, Northside Library’s branch librarian and program coordinator. “We have a huge South Asian population in the Rivermark area and we thought it would be fitting to celebrate Diwali, which is one of the biggest celebrations in South Asian cultures.”