DALLAS (TIP): A mammoth gathering of enthusiastic Indian Americans to celebrate the festival of India- Diwali- must have hugely pleased the organizers- the DFW Indian Cultural Society who have been working hard to put in place an event which has made history. 50,000 plus. In the last eight years, since Satish Gupta, the present President of DFW Indian Cultural Society moved the Diwali Mela out of his house where for years he has been celebrating the event with community, the mela has been growing in proportions. With every passing mela, the organizers learnt from their experience and over the years have perfected the art of organizing well such a massive event. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a letter, addressed to all sponsors and booth holders from one of the organizers, Mr. R.K. Panditi, expressing the gratitude of the organizers and being almost apologetic for any deficiencies that they may have come across. I feel tempted to quote it ad verbatim, because I would let my reader know how humble even in success the organizers are. A lesson that may do good to many. It reads:
EXPERIENCE LEADS TO PERFECTION
To achieve the level of success is only possible with the help of a dedicated team of people and more importantly the support of all the participants, booth vendors (Food and Non-Food), Sponsors and well wishers who contribute with one aim i.e. the success of this Gigantic Mela without any expectations or personal boundaries. For each one of them their participation and presence was more important. Whenever the food and non-food booths are assigned, it is always a major challenge and certain people are set in their mind that the assignment given was not a good spot or sometimes the crowd would not attract their booth for whatever reason. We want to assure each one of you that DFWICS makes every effort to give their best with one thing in mind that is your success, because your success is the success of our entire community at large.
Help and support received from all the booth owner’s is greatly admired despite the fact that some of them could not get the returns or results as they expected but each one of you made sure and gave hundred percent of your presence and support. Your dedication and support is recognized and appreciated by the entire community and DFWICS. We have learned a lot more to make it better next time. This year we were able to give all the vendors their entry passes in advance except the out of town folks. Next year we want to assure you all out of town booth owners will receive the best and would get the hospitality that would be second to none.
That’s a promise. Everyone appreciated the barricades set in front of food booths for proper lining without any chaos. Finally, we are climbing the ladder of becoming better than best with each one of your sincere support and participation. You all make a difference. Thanks a million. On behalf of DFWICS RK Panditi & team Nitu Singhal who was a master of ceremonies at the Mela has this to say about the Mela. 5F’s- Food, fun, festivities, fireworks and fans is how we can best describe the Diwali Mela 2013 of Dallas Fort Worth Indian Cultural Society (DFWICS), that was celebrated at the Cotton Bowl Stadium on November 2. “We like how DFW celebrates Diwali promoting our Indian culture. We are so far away from our motherland but with such active participations we do not feel an inch of separation from our families.
Thanks DFWICS for doing this”, says Mr. Arun Agarwal who visits every year with his ten and six year old kids. Speaking with The Indian Panorama, Mr. R.K. Panditi said that a record 50,000 to 52,000 persons visited the Mela where there were 146 booths. Educational institutions, like University of Dallas, media, entertainers and sellers of wares of different type, including food of a diverse variety were a part of the grand mela. The organizers clubbed Dussehra and Diwali festivities. Thus a Ram Lila was enacted before the fireworks heralded the spirit of Diwali. The scenes of Rama vanquishing Raana and returning to Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshaman were the culmination of Ramayana.
It was followed by Ravana dahan (burning the effigy of Ravana) followed by exquisite fireworks. A Bollywood entertainment segment is the sine qua non of any successful event in the US. The organizers made sure that the craze was well satisfied. The star entertainers were Monali Thakur and Aayushman Khurana who captured the moment with their spellbinding performances. Monali, an Indian idol, comes of a Bengali family. She made her mark in Bollywood with playback singing. Born in a family of singers, music runs in her blood. This cutest singing diva is making her career now as an actress in upcoming movies Lakshmi and Mango. TheChandigarh boy, Aaayushman Khurana made his Bollywood debut in the movie Vicky Donor two years ago and received many accolades for his performance. He is a rare combination of a singer and an actor.,
Kishore Kumar He has won the Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer and Best Male Actor. Having worked in many radio and TV shows, this uprising star was worth watching and hearing. Earlier, Mike Rawlings, Mayor of City of Dallas, some other dignitaries that included Thomas W. Keefe, President of University of Dallas, and DFW Indian Cultural Society office bearers led by the president Satish Gupta lighted the lamp to do the formal inauguration of the Diwali Mela. The Mayor also launched on the occasion the first ever Indian American English weekly newspaper The Indian Panorama. He congratulated the publishereditor Prof. Indrajit S Saluja for the “commendable service ” he was doing to the community. So much for the Diwali Mela.
But our correspondent was curious to know how the mela got started and who was responsible for starting it. So, she went to the DFW Indian Cultural Society President Satish Gupta who has been organizing the now legendary Diwali mela for the last many years. This is what she writes about Satish Gupta. Now we talk about this man who grew up near Delhi but traveled throughout India before he landed up in USA and that too at a very young age. DFW ICS President Mr. Satish Gupta in an exclusive interview to the correspondent told her that growing up in Delhi was definitely fun filled especially the Diwali celebrations around October-November. They started preparing for the festivities 2-3 weeks in advance before the actual day of Diwali.
Preparing sweets, visiting relatives, rangoli designs, lighting the diyas (earthern pots used specially at this time of the year for this festival), buying new clothes, Ramlila, fireworks and last but not the least, a very happy atmosphere that lightens up the whole mood are the peak highlights of Diwali festival in India. “Our kids in particular missed all the festive mood here while being in USA. Temples have given their best and tried hard to establish a room whereby our kids get a medium to perform and get to know our culture. However, we needed a much bigger platform where our kids could come with their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties, friends and relatives from all over and enjoy all these festivities under one roof.
So definitely we needed much bigger space and lot more accommodation to cope up with everybody’s needs”, says Mr. Satish Gupta. During the entire interview, Mr. Gupta kept emphasizing that putting together everything is primarily for kids that are born in USA because they really need exposure about our culture. Thus it all started from the backyard of his house where a few friends used to get together and celebrate the festival with full fervor including Ram-lila(short enactment about the life of Lord Rama-an Indian God). Slowly and steadily, the friend circle started growing and it became hard to have everybody under a roof.
It is then that Mr. Gupta and his team decided to hold Diwali Mela eight years ago on bigger grounds so lots of families could come together and celebrate. The team was expecting around a few thousands and, to their surprise, the turnout came to be nearly 20,000. Today, after successfully holding the event for 8 years, the crowd keeps on increasing and it has come to nearly 50,000 which is not only impressive but highly commendable and appreciative. “We will bring and do whatever connects each one of us to our roots”, says Mr. Gupta. The presence of highly recognized local dignitaries on this event makes it even more memorable. Many local non-profit organizations and educational institutes have shown their co-operation and support to the entire team of Diwali Mela.
This establishes a strong bond between different cultures not only within Indian origin but even those outside it. People are coming close and getting to know how vast and deep these roots are by spreading the word. Mr. Gupta says that they have received very positive response from all of them. They are indeed very thrilled and surprised at the fact that how close these festivities bring the families together.
The unity and integrity is there in each one of us but become far more visible when such grand events take place. With all the participation, kids talk about it in schools so their friends and teachers also get to know the importance of Diwali, like Christmas or Hanukkah has for others. According to Mr. Gupta, there are so many Indians everywhere in this world but there is a vacuum and it needs to be filled in a wider sense. He says, “Our vision as a parent, as a guide, as a teacher, as a Hindu should be to keep our culture alive within our kids because this was the vision of our parents when we were small. Our kids need to enjoy our festivities with fun rather than feeling bored.”