The atmosphere in the Wang Center auditorium was similar to that of an episode of America’s Got Talent at the first Diwali Show at Stony Brook University.
Among the notable performances were a group of 13-year-olds dancing to traditional Indian music and a child protege playing a musical instrument.
Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is an Indian festival celebrated usually during the month of October. Diwali, meaning light of good deeds, is a Hindu festival, which originated in India. On this day Hindus pray to better themselves. During the evening hours lamps are lit to symbolize victory of good over the evil within every human being.
The event started off with the singing of both the Indian and the American national anthems, followed by the lighting of the lamp ceremony – a traditional ceremony done to represent light as a symbol of knowledge. In the Hindu culture, events — including Diwali — are meant to bestow knowledge on the audience.
The first half of the show included nine performances. Different cultures from all over India were portrayed thought various types of motions. Included were Bhangra- a folk dance from Punjab, and Bharatanatyam – a classical dance from the south of India.
Professor Harsh Bhasin, the chief guest of this event, gave a speech on how Indians all around the world have managed to hold on to their cultural roots. “You can take an Indian out of India, but you can not take India out of an Indian,” he said. The event had a surprise visit from Vishal Bhalla, a finalist in the Zee TV show ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge USA 2008’, which is a show similar to American Idol. Bhalla expressed his joy “in encouraging children to pursue their hobbies in song and dance.”
During intermission, tea and traditional Indian snacks were served in the theater lobby. Curry Club, a local Indian restaurant, provided catering.
The second half of the event was kicked off by two 13- year- olds performing a Kathak dance- a classical dance from the northern parts of India. The two girls, Naqyia Choonwala, and Ardha Joshi put hard work into their performance. “We practiced for six months,” Choonwala said.
Teja Tope, known as the child protege, dazzled the audience playing the tablaa — an Indian drum like instrument. His sister and Pooja Deshpande who sang a Marathi song later joined Tope.
The event ended with a colorful and vibrant dance that every performer who had participated in the event performed.