Monday, November 5, 2012

Diwali Celebration Teaches Community about Indian Culture


Diwali, or Festival of Lights, is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. Sunday, hundreds celebrated by way of traditional song and dance at Rochester Century High School.

Feet moved to the beat of traditional Indian music. The words of songs from the mouths of the young told a story of a rich culture's past. Both celebrated good over evil as part of Diwali. 

"It is best explained as if you take Christmas and July 4th put it in one festival, that's Diwali for Indians," said Ananaha Kollengode, one of the organizers of the event. 

In front of a crowd of more than 500, 200 different participants performed acts of song and dance. The performers were both young and old, the stage a platform for both a celebration and a lesson. 

"We grew up in India, but our children are growing up here. We want them to stay connected with the culture, more importantly the good things, the festive things, the joyous things," said Kollengode. 

The shared lessons bringing a sense of comfort and togetherness. 

"Cause usually like sometimes everyone just makes fun of us like you're weird you have a different culture, but sometimes it's just nice to get together and celebrate it," said a group of kids at the event. 

"They feel comfortable with who they are and more importantly they don't miss out on the fun that they should be having," added Kollengode. 

And by teaching the younger generations, the hope is also to teach the greater Rochester community about the Indian celebration and culture. 

"We try to engage non-indians. Americans, asians, europeans. We like them to come in here and it's always sharing the culture right," said Deepak Narayanan.

Igniting a light to keep the traditions alive. 

The festival was sponsored by the Hindu Samaj Temple and Rochester Vidhalaya. Organizers say this year's event was a success.

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