Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights celebration. Similar to the Jewish Festival of Lights called Hanukkah. A celebration of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. Such festivals are common in the dark time of winter. Diwali originated in the Hindu religion, but it is also celebrated by Jains and Sikhs and some Buddhists.
Here in the Santa Barbara area we were fortunate to have a big celebration at La Colina Junior High on November 4. The event was sponsored by Santa Barbara Desis. “Desis” are the people of the Indian subcontinent: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. “Desi” comes from the word “desh” which means “land” or “country”. As in “Bangladesh”.
The celebration started at 3:30 in the afternoon with the serving of tea and appetizers.
We were invited by Vandana Khare, who was one of the event organizers. You will recognize her from the recent article I wrote about the Garba Gujarati Indian Flash Mob performance at Camino Real. Here Vandana posed with her daughter Megha.
Another organizer of both events is Madhu Khemani. Here Madhu (R) posed with several of the performers.
Many others posed during the tea time.
At 5:00PM we headed into the auditorium for the start of two and a half hours of non-stop performances of music and dance.
Starting with a dramatic introduction with lights and a confetti bomb.
There were performers of all ages. Starting with some young ones doing a traditional Shloka chant.
These “Nartan Dance Junior Stars” were junior and they were stars! Tamanna, Arwan, Grace, Vishala and Aariya
Taylor is Vandana’s grandson and a real showman. He performed a dance with Anika
Anika also sang a modern song solo.
Here are the Nrityadhara Dancer Girls: Aishani, Nina, Carys, Abigail, Samara
The Banjara “Girls” Deepa, Kunjal, Manasa, Pooja, Shailja and Soumyashree are all grown up and offered this dance.
Kunjal (in green and blue) also performed in the Garba Flash Mob dance. Here she and Kavitha did a Bharatnatyam Alarippu dance.
Last year young Jaivik Doshi performed on a hoverboard. He was back this year on illuminated roller skates.
There was a break in the music and dance for this skit about the challenges of a man trying to woo the woman he loves.
Aarna and Elsa did a little dance that sounded to me like it was from a Bollywood movie.
Here was the Young At Heart Dance with Aditi, Rahesh, Raj, Seema, Sushant and Usha. It had a bit of the feel of something from Fiesta.
Near the end, the organizers came out on stage to give thanks to all of the people who made the event possible.
And then there was the Dancing Finale with Kunjal, Kavitha, Nancy, Nishana, Priyanka, Rachana, Shailja and Simar
Here they came out on stage for a final bow.
I should note that my videos show just a part of the cultural events of the evening. The organizers did an impressive job of keeping the show moving quickly and efficiently, starting and ending exactly on time!
If you want to see their video of the entire show, you can watch it here.
We then went to the school cafeteria room to be served up a delicious dinner. Last year it was provided by Masala Spice in Goleta, which I thought was superb! But some of the organizers wanted something different this year, so the food came from a famous Los Angeles caterer. It’s all good!
Be sure to keep an eye out next year for this wonderful celebration of life, goodness and wisdom!
– Robert Bernstein