The Association of Indians in America (AIA) New York chapter held a diya-lighting ceremony Nov. 13, 2020, at Times Square, to celebrate Diwali.
Chief guest Consul General of India Randhir Jaiswal, along with special guests, New York State Senator John Liu and Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha, inaugurated the ceremony. They also prayed for the end of suffering caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
Because of social distancing measures, the event capacity was limited to 25 people.
The Diwali festival is one of the landmark events of AIA-NY, celebrated at South Street Seaport and attracting more than 50,000 spectators and topped off with an impressive fireworks display. That celebration was predictably canceled because of the coronavirus.
“AIA-NY did Diya lighting at Times Square, NYC, which is the crossroads of the world. This Diwali is going to be very different from all the others we have ever experienced,” President of AIA- NY Harish Thakkar is quoted saying at the event in a press release.
NY State Senator John Liu said, “Diwali is the celebration of light and so, coming at a time of darkness, when there seem to be many sad stories of bereavement, sickness and financial hardship all caused by a virus, we need to ensure that our inner light stays ignited. Instead of thinking of corona, it is a time to share compassion, love and care with everyone around us.”
Consul General of India, Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal extended his warmest wishes to everyone. “Diwali truly brightens our evenings as we unite to celebrate the festival of lights, we mark the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. Diwali’s central message of openness, peace and mutual respect is one we can all learn from,” Jaiswal said.
He also praised the AIA as a grass-root national organization well known for its social, cultural and educational activities. It has also been the organizer of the largest Diwali festival in NYC for the past 32 years, he noted.