Bedford’s South Asian Community Celebrates Diwali in the Time of Pandemic

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Lalitha Gunturi Ranganath (c) 2020 all rights reserved

An illustration from “Amma, tell me about Diwali,” a children’s book that explains the story and meaning behind Diwali. The book was read aloud for the Parents Diversity Council’s Zoom event.

In a year where so much has changed due to the pandemic, our celebrations of festivals and holidays have also needed to be adjusted.   Diwali, or the festival of lights, is celebrated each fall by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists around the world and is underway. This year, the end of Diwali falls on Saturday, November 14.

Diwali is a 5-day celebration signifying the importance of knowledge, self-inquiry, self-improvement, knowing, and seeking the good and the right path.  It is a festive restatement of the belief that good ultimately triumphs over evil and light over darkness.

Thanks to Prakhar Gupta and his family who described a traditional Diwali celebration in this 2017 video:

Many families around the world are navigating how to celebrate this festival in this new normal.  Here in Bedford, the annual Bedford’s Annual Diwali Gala hosted by the Bedford Desi Club (BDC) will not take place.  The BDC has organized the Gala since 2014 for the local South Asian community to be able to celebrate this holiday together, with attendance growing exponentially each year.

Click this link to read about the 2019 party and the 5th annual party in 2018.

Featuring dance performances showcasing the latest Bollywood hits, a huge spread of Indian delicacies, and ending with a full-on DJ dance party – the annual Diwali parties have been an integral part of many Bedford Desi families’ Diwali celebrations each year.  This year, of course, there will be no big party and many are missing the usual festivities.

A new tradition has begun in Bedford 

The Parents Diversity Council (PDC) started “A Cultural Mosaic” series as a way to showcase different cultures, traditions, or holidays celebrated by Bedford families.  On November 7, the PDC  hosted a Cultural Mosaic event celebrating Diwali.  Nearly 30 families learned about Diwali and celebrated together, albeit virtually on Zoom.

“The PDC started ‘A Cultural Mosaic’ to highlight and share the different cultures of our Bedford community. We were pleased so many families were interested in learning about Diwali and hope others will continue to join us at our monthly events,” Lilly Younger, PDC Board Member and organizer of the program said.

The event featured storytime, crafts, and many inquisitive questions from children curious to learn more about Diwali and how it is celebrated.

“Thank you to the PDC for inviting us to share our culture with the community.  I feel fortunate to live in a town that welcomes and embraces diverse cultures,”  shared Sushma Raja, one of the parents who volunteered to present.

Like everything else this year, Diwali may not look the same – but it is heartening to know that the spirit of the holiday continues to shine bright in Bedford!

Lalitha Gunturi Ranganath is a member of The Bedford Citizen’s Board of Directors.




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