Thousands enjoy Indo-American Festivals’ 25th Dussehra celebration in Edison, NJ

Thousands of people streamed into Lake Papaianni Park in Edison, NJ, October 21, 2023, to enjoy day-long Dussehra festivities which ended with the burning of Ravan’s 20-foot tall effigy. PHOTO:Indo American Festivals Inc.

Indo-American Festivals, Inc. (IAF), a New Jersey-based non-profit organization, marked a milestone in its history, celebrating the 25th year of the annual Dussehra festival, Saturday, October 21, 2023, in Edison, NJ.

Organizers said more than 10,000 people streamed in through the day at Lake Papaianni Park to participate and enjoy a range of cultural activities and attractions.

The highlights included the always captivating 2.5-hour performance of the Ramleela, the traditional burning of a towering 20-foot effigy of Ravan, and a new addition – 15-foot fiber statue of Lord Hanuman.

A 15-foot tall statue of Lord Hanuman, the remover of all obstacles, was unveiled at the Dussehra festival in Papaianni Park in Edison, NJ, Oct. 21, 2023. PHOTO: Indo American Festivals, Inc.

The statue not only drew in crowds but also provided a spiritual space for attendees to offer prayers and seek blessings.

Edison Township Mayor Sameer Joshi, Councilman Ajay Patil, and community leader Hitesh Bhatt were among the many who participated in the festival, engaging with the public and witnessing the events and visiting many stalls.

The Ramleela was performed at the Oct. 21, 2023, Dussehra festival, in Edison, NJ. PHOTO: Indo American Festivals, Inc.

The festivities went on for about 8 hours, a press release from IAF said. More than 80 stalls featuring various vendors, offering items such as clothing, jewelry, henna, face painting, educational resources, Hindi literature, books, banking services, and financial advice, were among the many that peppered Papaianni Park, with something for everybody

The 20-foot Ravan effigy, the towering 15-foot Hanuman idol, the enactment of Ramleela, and a plethora of dance and other performances kept the crowds entertained.

As always, no festival is complete without food vendors offering the many Indian street foods. Meanwhile, clothing and jewelry stalls were crowded. And children enjoyed many dedicated activities for their age groups, and for all those present.

A scene from the Ramleela performed at the Oct. 21, 2023, Dussehra festival, in Edison, NJ. PHOTO: Indo American Festivals, Inc.

Chanchal Gupta, the chairperson of Indo-American Festivals, Inc., expressed her greeted and thanked those who came to enjoy the festivities. She paid tribute to the organization’s original founder, Mangal Gupta, who envisioned celebrating Dussehra in the United States. Although he passed away in 2012, his legacy lives on through the dedicated volunteers and supporters who continue to organize this event every year, she noted. The aim of such a festival was to pass down the rich culture and traditions to future generations, with a core message of the victory of good over evil, she said.

The festival commenced at 12:30 PM and concluded with the burning of the Ravan effigy.

20-foot tall Ravan statue at Lake Papaianni Park for the Dussehra festivities Oct. 21, 2023. PHOTO: Indo American Festivals Inc

More than 50 dedicated volunteers and supporters put in year-round efforts to plan and execute this massive event, organizers said. Key volunteers included Raj Mittal, Dinesh Mittal, Shiva Arya, Dr. Rajiv Mehta, Dharmesh Agrawal, Shalini Chhabra, among many others.

Middlesex County provided a part of the grant funding, as other sponsors and donors chipped in to make the event possible and free for the crowds that poured in.

Gupta thanked the Township of Edison for providing the exceptional venue at Lake Papaianni Park and the support from its staff, which she said was pivotal in making it a successful day.

Several media outlets, including Parikh Worldwide Media’s ITV Gold and Desi Talk, as well as TV Asia, Radio Zindagi, EBC Radio, and many others, who helped promote the event, and make the turnout high.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here