Worcester Art Museum Diwali Fall Community Day Barin Bando Arathi Cowlagi

WORCESTER – As five young women dressed in colorful saris wrapped up their celebratory dance, applause and cheers reverberated around the Renaissance courtyard at the Worcester Art Museum on Sunday morning.

There was plenty to applaud and applaud.

The Worcester Art Museum and the India Society of Worcester came together for a fall community day in Diwali, which has become a tradition for several years in a row.

Last year, the event was held virtually via Zoom due to the pandemic. Diwali’s return to WAM as a free-entry, live community day was greeted by a crowded audience in the Renaissance courtyard during a late morning music and dance session, one of many. proposed activities which took place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Out of date. This time the result is fabulous,” said Barin Bando of the Worcester Art Museum and former president of the India Society of Worcester. “We already have 600 people now and we are open until 4 am so we will have more.”

Diwali itself is known as the “Festival of Lights” and is one of the biggest national holidays in India. It takes its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that people traditionally light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects against spiritual darkness. The festival typically lasts for five days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika, between mid-October and mid-November.

Word of welcome from the Renaissance Court.  The Worcester Indian Society celebrated its Diwali at the Worcester Art Museum on Sunday.

“Diwali is a celebration of the victory of light over darkness,” said Arathi Cowlagi, chair of Diwali Community Fall Day and member of the India Society of Worcester’s cultural committee.

“As we all come out of a particularly dark year, we want to share this festive spirit with our community,” she said.

Sunday’s events also included lamp lighting, a sari fashion show, art activities, story readings by authors Geeta Pherwani and Ushma Multani, and a candy-making demonstration. There was also traditional Indian food for sale.

In the Renaissance courtyard there was a sort of mix of ancient cultural stories, as Diwali, which dates back centuries, was celebrated in a setting that included sculptures such as the funeral monument of a Greek warrior from 420 to 400 BCE Attica.

A small group of dancers watch the first group of singers at the start of the program in the Renaissance Court.  The Worcester Indian Society celebrated its Diwali at the Worcester Art Museum on Sunday.

The music and dances performed for Diwali ranged from classical to folk to Bollywood, Cowlagi said.

“When we are happy, we show our happiness with music and dance,” said Amita Rao, president of the cultural committee of the India Society of Worcester.

“And a lot of great food,” added Rashki Khanna, who presented some of the performances. “And get dressed.”

Dancers whirl in a slow exhibition in the Renaissance courtyard.  The Worcester Indian Society celebrated its Diwali at the Worcester Art Museum on Sunday.

However, Rao noted that music, dancing, clothing, food, and happiness are not exclusive to Diwali.

“This is what we would do for all of our festivals,” Rao said.

Likewise, the sari is “something so integral to our culture. It’s a must-have for everything, ”Cowlagi said of women’s clothing. The bright colors of many sarees symbolize happiness, she said.

Such traditions are maintained here by the Indian Society of Worcester, which has around two thousand families in the Worcester area, said Rao.

Dancers perform in the Renaissance courtyard.  The Worcester Indian Society celebrated its Diwali at the Worcester Art Museum on Sunday.

“The India Society of Worcester is our extended family,” she said.

For the children of the first generation, “We see that they are interested in the nature of the events,” she said. First-generation adults often volunteer for ISW events, Rao noted.

The first performers sing at the opening of the Diwali program.  The Worcester Indian Society celebrated its Diwali at the Worcester Art Museum on Sunday.

“So we are very fortunate that our children are learning from this,” said Rao.

“And having that relationship with the community,” Cowlagi said.

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About Margaret L. Portillo

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