This year, residents in Jersey City are getting a head start on Diwali, India’s most important holiday, with a series of events to mark the occasion this weekend. The festivities, which celebrate the triumph of good over evil, officially run from October 23 to October 27.
Also known as “The Festival of Lights,” Diwali refers to the lighting of a row of clay lamps in front of one’s home to ward off evil spirits. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists have been observing the holiday for more than 2,500 years.
“This is a holiday I always want to be taken back to,” said Vedang Chokhani, a resident of Newport, who moved to Jersey City from Chennai, India four years ago. “It takes me back to a feeling of oneness with my family even though they are not physically with me.”
This weekend’s events, which are just some of the city’s Diwali celebrations to be held this month, include an exhibit of paintings by Shiva Jlayer at the city’s Commuter Gallery today from 6 to 8 p.m.; an eight-hour-long party at The Beacon Apartments on Montgomery Street beginning tomorrow at 3 p.m; and festivities co-produced by Jersey City and The Saraswati Cultural Association of New Jersey Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at the 9/11 Memorial just south of Exchange Place.
The event at The Beacon is being held ahead of time due to the weather forecast, according Surya Pradhan, the event organizer. The event is being sponsored by Rialto Capitol Condo Association.
To Chookhani a significant part of celebrating Diwali is honoring the Goddess Lakshmi, who represents wealth and good fortune, acknowledging prosperity in one’s home, and gathering loved ones to take part in the new Hindi lunar year. Observers feasts and watch fireworks. The third day of Diwali is considered the most notable.
Newport resident Abhishek Velankar also celebrates Diwali and mused that “back at home, this event is celebrated on a much larger scale.” True, said Pradhan. “We all interpret Diwali based upon where we live, but there’s one common theme that brings us all together, and that’s the victory of Good over evil.”
The events at The Beacon will unfold as follows:
3:00 PM – 4:15 PM Games and Cultural Events
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM High Tea with Chaat & Samosa
4:15 PM – 4:30pm Lamp Lighting
7:30 PM Onwards Dinner
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM Band
9:00 PM Onwards DJ