Malden’s cultural diversity illuminated by Festival of Lights

Officiating priest, Vannamali Pandit Das, blows a conch shell, signaling the start of the ceremony. (Photo by Juhi Varma)

By Juhi Varma

 

Malden’s first Diwali celebration took place at the Beebe School on Saturday, November 17. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, takes place in November and is a five-day festival celebrated by Hindus and Indians around the world. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil and marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. The event took place in the Beebe school’s lavishly decorated gymnasium and was attended by 250–300 members of Malden’s Indian community, who were dressed in traditional finery.

“The Festival of Lights was a nice celebration, and I attended to thank the organizers for their contribution to Malden,” said Mayor Christenson, who dropped in for awhile. It was organized by the newly-formed youth group, Malden Bhakta Vrinda. “We are part of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON),” explained Vannamali Pandit Das, the officiating master of ceremonies.

The evening’s festivities included dance performances that showcased India’s rich and multifaceted culture; the Diwali puja, or traditional religious worship ceremony; and a talk on the significance of Diwali. The smell of incense and Indian food wafted through the air.

“We started thinking about the event in August 2012 and took almost three to four months to organize it,” said Das, a software professional for ING Software who volunteers as a priest. “In a year we plan to celebrate Ram Navami, Holi, Krishna Janmashtami, Dussehera, and Diwali [different Hindu festivals] on a large scale.”

The Diwali event was sponsored by Malden’s own India Bazaar, American Indian Cash & Carry, and Jothi Restaurant.

Malden Bhakta Vrinda’s weekly sessions take place every Friday from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at 200 Mountain Ave, Apt. 12, Malden.

  • Jyotirmay prakash Varma

    Diwali commemorates Lord Rama’s triumphant return to Ayodhya, his kingdom’s capital, after his exile and the slaying of the demon king Ravana. The kingdom rejoiced and celebrated with lights, with lamps lit in every home.