A steady stream of visitors flowed in and out of Buchmuller Park for the second annual Diwali celebration organized by the Indian Caucus of Secaucus on Oct. 22. The event provided a festive atmosphere with live music all the way from India, bouncy rides, dancing, raffle prizes, and food.
“We celebrate [Diwali] every year,” said Rajesh Nagpal, president of the Indian Caucus of Secaucus. “And every year we would love to have this kind of event, which is also called Festival of Lights in English.”
The event took three to four months of planning and involved various individuals from the Indian Caucus with support from the Mayor and Town Council.
She said she came to the Diwali festival “for the food.”
Gonnelli dressed in a traditional kurta handed out some of the raffle prizes along with Councilwoman Susan Pirro.
Strengthening family bonds
Diwali is symbolic of light over darkness or the triumph of good over evil.
“For Indians, historically, it is a festival that strengthens bonds of family and friendship, by uniting all in shared customs and traditions,” said Nagpal.
Many families attended the event to enjoy the food, dance and meet other people.
The organizers stressed the importance of passing on Indian cultural tradition to a new generation of children growing up in the United States.
“When we parents get involved with these festivals and culture, the children automatically get connected with their culture,” said Nagpal.
Children of various ages dressed in colorful sarees and kurtas gathered up on the stage and danced to the music being sung by Meg Malha from Shreenath Enterprise.
Kids made and painted little clay lamps called Diya, which are traditionally used as sources of light for Diwali.
“In your house, light will come,” said Aparna Ghia, a resident of two years, regarding the significance of lighting Diya in your home for Diwali.
“I really love [Diwali],” said Ghia. “This is the best day of the year.”
Sixteen-year-old Hemal Patel, a resident of four years, said she enjoyed the food, dancing and all the people.
“[Diwali] is a good get together for the community,” said Omi Shahani, resident of four years. He said he enjoyed the food, music, and culture.
Delighting in cultural foods
Celebrants enjoyed popular Indian street foods like Samosas and Vada Pav, a battered and fried potato mixture sandwiched between a puffed bun. Those came from the Indian restaurant Mausam, which was one of the food vendors at the event. They also enjoyed onion Pakoda – thin strips of battered and fried onion mixed with ingredients like ginger, green chillies, garlic and curry leaves – from the Dosa House, and fried rice with vegetables from China Spice Party Hall.
Sue Gamze, resident of nine years originally from Turkey, said she came to the Diwali festival “for the food.” She added, “I use all of the [Indian] spices to cook.”
Raffle prizes included free car washes and dinners to places like Bonefish Grill and Mausam.
“I always try to come and experience what I know,” said Bina Patel, a raffle prize winner and contributor to the event. She said she hadn’t celebrated Diwali since she had arrived in the United States 17 years ago.
“This is amazing,” she said.
Vendors sold clothing and also included Vonage and the International Planning Alliance.
Sponsors included Wendy’s, Bonefish Grill, Rajbhog, Mithaas, Tadka, Indian Resta, Secaucus Car Wash, Village India Restaurant, Paratha Junction, China Chow, and Sapthagin. Accel Learning and Nourison sponsored the children’s events at the festival.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.