SUGAR LAND, TX: Diwali has now become a familiar word the world over now and is recognized as the largest Indian festival which celebrates the ‘Victory of Good Over Evil’, ‘ Light over Darkness’, ‘Hope over Despair’ and all the Goodness of Human Beings.
Diwali is celebrated with great fanfare not only by over 1.35 billion Indians flung across the globe, but also in including various state and national capitals, including the White House in the US and the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas. Governor Abbott will celebrate Diwali at the Governor’s mansion this year on October 20.
Diwali is usually called the ‘Festival of Lights’ because all homes and offices are lit up with lights, similar to what you see during Christmas time in the US. The celebration of Diwali is enjoyed by people of every religion and by each member of the family, right from babies cradled in arms to elders in wheelchairs.
Since 2012, the Shri Sita Ram Foundation, a 501 C (3) non-profit, has brought this great festival to Houston in a manner not seen elsewhere in the US or even in India. The Houston team brings the best tradition picks from every city, every state of India and every country where Diwali Dussehra is celebrated and combines all of these in a cultural bouquet that is presented at Skeeter’s Stadium.
This event presents and showcases to all Houstonians the best there is of Indian culture, heritage and values in an unparalleled manner. People who have attended the event in Houston have come from as far away as Los Angeles, New York and India and remark that the Diwali Dussehra celebration in Houston is the best one they have ever seen anywhere. The highlights of last year’s event were shown on TV in about 100 countries and was covered by about 50 newspapers in India.
Last year, Governor of Texas Greg Abbot, was the chief guest and US Congressman Pete Olson was the Parade Marshal. This year Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is the Chief Guest and Fort Bend County Judge K.P. George is the Parade Marshal. This year, a number of dignitaries are expected to join in, as well as for the first time, people from the Consulates of 15 countries, like Australia, Switzerland, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Indonesia, and others.
The objectives of the event are, to:
– Re-connect first generation Indians in the greater Houston area with the culture and festive experience of the biggest festival of India; outside of India.
– Introduce and educate children born and raised in the US to the rich cultural roots through a three-dimensional presentation and participation.
– Introduce, educate, promote and showcase the rich and vibrant Indian culture and moral value to all mainstream Americans.
– Celebrate the ‘Victory of Good over Evil’, ‘Light Over Darkness’ and ‘Universal Brotherhood’.
The presentation and showcasing the rich Indian culture in Houston is indeed unique, and very effective .
Here are some of details that one may expect at the Festival:
The stadium and baseball field will be specially decorated with millions of Diwali lights and other decorations which will be visible several miles away. The main entrance gates and nearly 100 merchandize booths will be draped in multicolored silk and lights. These booths will sell traditional Diwali items including, Diwali candles, jewelry, fashion clothing, make up items for ladies and toys. A number of banks and companies are expected to promote their services. A Ladies Bazaar – or Meena Bazaar – selling items exclusively for ladies is always a hit.
The ceilings and walls of the concourse and field will be decorated with traditional banners, flags, hangings, pictures and deities of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
A food Bazaar will serve vegetarian food from every part of India, so that no palate remains unsatisfied.
This festival specially caters to children with free henna booths, face painting, balloons, moon walk, merry-go-round, shooting Ravan game, Ravan piñatas, petting zoo, pony rides, clowns, toys and many more.
The stage performance will be presented on a 2-tiered 60 ft.by 40 ft. stage, located at 2nd base. Professionally installed stage lights, special effects and huge LED screens will make this memorable evening the best Diwali-Dussehra event ever in Houston. The performances will include several folk dances, prominent Kings and Queens of India, the origins of Goddess Lakshmi, the incredible play on Lord Ram’s life and the final battle to overcome the Evil, and a special spiritual dance by an artist brought from Egypt. A special segment will also showcase nearly 100 children dressed up in different characters from Indian scriptures.
Alongside the performance stage will a towering 24-foot tall figure of Lord Hanuman and a new addition; a 35-foot tall figure of Lord Ram; both revered by Hindus.
The festival will also feature a multicolored, magnificent parade with around 50 floats by local temples and organizations which will present scenes, stories and characters from Indian scriptures, which has earned laurels in the US for its quality, content and unique presentation.
The festival would not be complete without demonstrating the destruction of Evil and the victory of Goodness. What better way to deliver this message home than through burning of the effigies of the evil figures of ‘Ravan’, ‘Kumbhakaran’ and ‘Meghnath’, specially built for this occasion. The evil is consumed by fire and the euphoria of the victory of Goodness is celebrated through bursting of fire crackers and a magnificent display of aerial fireworks display, considered to be the best in Houston.
This event is to be held on October 19, 2019 from 4 pm to 10:30 pm at Skeeters Stadium at 1, Stadium Drive in Sugarland, Texas. Tickets for this extravaganza are only $10 and are available from the Foundation’s website, www.ShriSitaRam.org, Sulekha.com, Eventbrite.com and many area Indian grocery stores. Parking is free at Skeeter’s stadium. As this event is always ‘Sold Out’, it’s advisable to purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.