The DFW Indian Cultural Society’s mega event-the Diwali Mela- is being organized on November 2 at Cotton Bowl. It will be the 8th super mela in a row. As our tribute to the grand event, we bring to our readers an article on Diwali specially written for The Indian Panorama by Mike Ghouse, a noted literateur and journalist. Read on.
Diwali is the Indian festival of lights and is celebrated on a large scale throughout India and the Indian Diaspora. It is also celebrated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Guyana, West Indies, Fiji, and of course, here in the United States. Thanks to the Gupta’s for placing Dallas on the World Map of Diwali Celebrations.
I believe it is one of the biggest celebrations in the United States, if not the biggest in the western Hemisphere. Ramesh Gupta initiated the event eight years ago, fully supported, encouraged and funded by the Dallas billionaire couple Satish and Yasmin Gupta.
DFW Indian Cultural Society (DFW ICS) made its debut on the Dallas scene with the very first “Diwali Mela 2006”, which drew over 38,000 people to Texas Stadium. . Attendance has been increasing every year and is currently at an impressive figure of over 70,000. Diwali Mela has become an annual signature event for DFW IC
The inauguration of an earlier Diwali Mela
DFW ICS has a strong commitment to the community which is reflected in the variety projects that it has undertaken, such as organizing the Diwali Mela, entertainment programs, sponsoring the Medical Clinics in Plano and Lewisville, for the uninsured and has recognized the contribution of teachers to the community by giving cash rewards.
DFW ICS has supported multiple non-profit organizations throughout metropolis. Under the leadership of Satish Gupta, DFW ICS is moving forward by organizing various programs and dedicating itself to serving the needs of the communities in the Dallas Fort Worth area
Huge gathering in Cotton Bowl
Nearly 50,000 people attend the event. First it was held in Texas Stadium, former home of the Dallas Cowboys and now it is held at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Fair Park, Dallas, where college football is played and home to Texas State Fair. There is nothing like it.
Satish Gupta, president of the organizations writes this information on their website, http://www.dfwdiwalimela.com/, “This year again we have decided to pack all the fun for children, youth, adults and seniors. From Ram Leela and Bollywood singers to spectacular fireworks, elephant rides to slides, Cultural dances to mouth watering Indian food, all packed in one of the biggest Carnival of its kind in America. There will be three elephants and two camels available for the rides this year! We bring all this to you at a very minimal cost to you.”
The moving spirit behind the Diwali Mela, Satish Gupta, President of DFW Indian Cultural Society
“The large number of people the Carnival attracted in the past years is a testimony to its success. The number of attendees keeps growing and it presents an important platform for a quick reach to the Asian Community of Dallas Fort worth and the nearby cities of Texas.
We would like to thank all our Sponsors who support us in this huge task. The purpose of this message is to request you to come with your family and friends and make the event a grand success. Your participation will go a long way in promoting our culture to the kids and youths of our community.” Diwali is spelled differently, and is called by many names.
There is Divali among others, and Deepavali, meaning the festival of lights. Although Diwali is a Hindu tradition, people of all faiths participate in celebrations – Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and others. People decorate their homes with lights and Rangoli, i.e., colorful drawing in the front yard of the home, sidewalks, even roads in India with colorful powders or colorful pieces of chalk.
Women and Children look forward to express their artistic talent in this season. Their surroundings filled with colorful lights to enliven the day, to mark the dawn of a new era in one’s life. My childhood is filled with good memories of Diwali; the sparklers, the food and everything joyous you can imagine.
A few years ago, Jyoti and Nishi Bhatia, former President of DFW Hindu Temple and President of Dallas Hindi Association respectively, asked me to speak about Diwali in a dinner gathering to a group of people from different faiths and cultures, and I cherished it, I love talking about Diwali, as its essence reflects the ideals of pluralism, and symbolizes hope and positive energy, victory of good over evil; a new beginning.
It is indeed seeing the light at the end of tunnel. Diwali Celebration is a part of the epic Ramayana, and the Ram Lila is played out all night long in towns across India. I grew up watching it in front of my house, and my friends played different roles in the show. Indeed, one of my former relatives played Hanuman’s role.
Ramayan being enacted
It was a challenge for me to teach Ramayana to a group of people who knew nothing about it. It turned out to be a successful program. I prepared the nearly all white audience that I will be narrating the story through the power point and along will be reinforcing the names and roles of the key persons in the story and will ask them for feed back at the end.
Friends, I cannot tell you the joy, the Bhatias and I felt when each one of them answered the questions from the story. They got it! It is a powerful story and takes about 30 minutes to narrate. The epic is filled with educative tales, edifying poems, and fables. It is probably through their constant retelling in the villages over centuries that Hinduism is most efficiently disseminated from generation to generation
Ravana’s effigy is set on fire
Whenever a society rots with adharma (wrong path), where no one cares about the other, lying, stealing and dishonesty become rampant, Lord Krishna says, I will emerge among you and restore the righteousness and trust in the society to function smoothly.
Zarathustra, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Nanak, Mahavira, Confucius, Tao and others served the same purpose… it is almost like the laws of physics ; water finds its own level, and righteousness finds its own existence. Rama is one such incarnation who reestablished the moral code for social conduct and proper relation of mankind to divinity. He was truthful and a just king. Diwali symbolizes hope and positive energy
● People wear new clothes
● Share sweets as a symbol of happiness
● Renew the relationships
● Strengthen the bonds It signifies a new beginning, starting out fresh.
● for most businesses it is the new financial year
● An inventory of assets is taken
● An assessment of family and relationship
● Last harvest for the farmers
● New things are bought
President Obama in his message last Diwali said it perfectly,
“Many who observe this holiday will light the Diya, or lamp, which symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
As that lamp is lit, we should all recommit ourselves to bring light to any place still facing darkness. Earlier this year, we were reminded of the evil that exists in the world when a gunman walked into the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and opened fire.
In the wake of that horrible tragedy, we saw the resilience of a community that drew strength from their faith and a sense of solidarity with their neighbors, Sikh and non-Sikh alike. We also saw compassion and love, in the heroic actions of the first responders and the outpouring of support from people across the country. Out of a day of sadness, we were reminded that the beauty of America remains our diversity, and our right to religious freedom. To those celebrating Diwali, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak.”
Today, on this blessed day, we have a blank slate to start, let’s plan on filling it with doing good things for ourselves, to our family, friends, community, nation and the world until next Diwali. What are good things? Words and actions that bring peace, Mukti, salvation, Moksha, nirvana, Nijaat and freedom to us, yes us.
There is so much of joy waiting to be had. If we can remove hatred and anger towards others, forgive others and ask for forgiveness (Michami Dukadam is a beautiful phrase the Jain’s use), then a blissful year is sure to come for each one of you and me.
● May this Diwali purge your heart, mind and soul from hate, malice, anger and ill-will;
● May this Diwali open your hearts and minds towards fellow being;
● May this Diwali brighten your life, and may this Diwali mark the dawn of a new era; Muslims are a big part of Diwali as well, and innumerable poets have written poetries and songs about Diwali.
Here is my effort, I wrote this seven years ago on the occasion when Diwali and Ramadan were celebrated around the same time.
A meri diwali hai, a meri eid hai donon may khushi hi khushi hai Diwali say naya saal shuru hota hai Ramzan ek naya insaan banata hai Diwali may ek baat ka hisab hota hai Ramzan may her baat ka review hota hai Diwali nayay saal ke liye clean slate deta hai Ramzan pichlay saal ki slate clean karta hai Baat hi baat may, my nay a sher likh diya Sahir Diwali aur Ramzan say subka acha hi hota hai Shubh kamnaein | Diwali Mubarak | Blessed Diwali. Happy Diwali to you my friends, may this Diwali bring happiness, serenity and peace to you. Amen!