Celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, on November 6

For immediate release October 17, 2005



Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The Maharashtra Mandal of Iowa in collaboration with the Iowa Arts Council, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the State Historical Society of Iowa will sponsor “Diwali, the Festival of Lights!” Noon-4 p.m. on Sunday, November 6, 2005 at the State Historical Building.

Considered one of India’s most popular festivals, Diwali is a celebration of truth and light. “Diwali” is derived from the Sanskrit word “deepavali” – “deepa” meaning light and “avali” meaning a row – and literally means a row of light that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and hope over despair. Diwali is held on Naraka Chathurdasi Day on the dawn of Amavaasyaa during the Hindu month of Ashwina or Aippasi, which coincides with the Western calendar months of September or October every year.

Traditionally, Diwali is characterized by the lighting of small oil lamps – called “diyas” – that are placed around the home and in courtyards, verandas and gardens as well as on rooftops and outer walls. In urban areas, candles are substituted for diyas, and neon lights are used in place of candles in other areas. The festival is celebrated by fireworks and exchanging sweets with friends and family.

This year’s celebration at the Historical Building, however, will take on a different purpose. In response to the enormous damage suffered across the world from tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, the Maharashtra Mandal of Iowa will celebrate this year’s Diwali by exhibiting rangoli (sketches and patterns using chalk powder, colors, flowers and/or grains). Demonstrations on rangoli drawing will be offered at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and workshops on making aakash-kandil (“skylamps” made from paper and bamboo sticks – similar to making kites) will be offered at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.

Traditional Indian food and snacks will be available, and a portion of the sales and all donations will be sent to the Red Cross for disaster relief.

Please call Ketki Hood at (515) 457-8174 or Prajakta Pradhan at (515) 222-9824 by October 31, 2005, to participate in rangoli drawing and aakash-kandil making. Vendors interested in selling food and snacks can call Manish at (515) 457-8174 for more information.


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