New York City Council Holds Annual Diwali Festival in Queens

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The New York City Council held its annual Diwali Festival November 13th at the LeFrank Concert Hall of the Queens College. Photo: Neeta Jain

The New York City Council held its annual Diwali Festival November 13th at the LeFrank Concert Hall of the Queens College. Organized jointly by Council Member James F. Gennaro and District Leader Neeta Jain, and co-sponsored by Council Members Barry S. Grodenchik and Peter Koo, the in-person event was attended by elected officials, local leaders including Assembly Member David Weprin, officers of the Desi Society of NYPD, a representative from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, and special guests Deputy Consul General (DCG) of India, Dr. Varun Jeph and the Deputy Consul General (DCG) of Israel, Israel Nitzan.

Lamp lighting ceremony at the Diwali celebrations held jointly by NYC Council and Council Member James Gennaro and District Leader Neeta Jain, and co-wsponsored by Council Members Barry S. Grodenchik and Peter Koo. Photo: courtesy Neeta Jain

In his opening remarks, Council Member Gennaro said, “Diwali is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.” “It is a beautiful tradition, and I am honored to have played a role in bringing the festival to Queens this year,” he added.

District Leader Jain said, “On this Diwali, let’s make a promise to bring light to people’s lives who have suffered during this pandemic, and also pray to God for good health and fortune for everyone”. She said she was looking forward to have Diwali as a holiday at New York’s Public Schools.

Special guest DCG Jeph wished joy, love, peace, prosperity, and good health to everyone. “It is very heartening to see the festival of lights being celebrated here with great joy and fervor, not only by the South-Asian community, but also by members of diverse ethnicities and nationalities,” he said.  “It truly reflects the American and Indian values of celebrating diversity and of embracing different cultures,” he further said. DCG Nitzan said it was his first time celebrating Diwali with the Indian community.

Council Member Grodenchik said he could not think of a better start to the holiday season than the Diwali Festival. “It is my honor to once again co-sponsor the City Council’s Diwali event and to join my friends and neighbors for a beautiful celebration right here in Queens,” he said.

“Diwali is a festival of new beginnings and of light and hope. I am happy to co-sponsor this year’s festivities with my Council colleagues and celebrate this day with our friends and families,” said Council Member Koo. “May hope and light guide us all this Diwali and this holiday season,” he said.

“After another difficult year in the pandemic, it was comforting to gather in-person and take part in a ceremony acclaiming the ultimate triumph of good over evil,” said Assembly Member David Weprin. “Diwali is a holiday celebrating the victory of light over darkness, and it is a pleasure to celebrate Diwali here at Queens College,” he added. Commending the honored community advocates, Weprin said, “They have devoted their time, energy, and resources to improve the lives of countless NYC residents”.

A traditional dance performed at the Nov. 13, 2021, Diwali celebrations held by NYC Council at LeFrank Concert Hall of Queens College. Photo: courtesy Neeta Jain

The highlights of the celebration were the traditional lighting of the lamp and music and dance performances including a ‘Ganesh Vandana’ prayer by the members of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, a Peace Prayer by Dr. Krishna Pratap Dixit, a Sarva Devatha Anjali performed by the Mukthambar Fine Arts Team, Nagade song ‘Dhol Baje’ performed by Dr. Sumita Guha, a Masala Bhangra performed by Sarina Jain and her team, and a Bollywood Medley performed by Anadita Guha.

Several community leaders and advocates were honored on the occasion, chief among whom were businessman donor Kanak Golia, the Hindu Center President Dr. Ravindra Goyal, Sikh community leader Simarjeet Singh Gizlian, and founder of Masala Bhangra Sarina Jain.

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