Thousands gather to celebrate first-ever official Diwali in Edison, N.J

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Edison Mayor Sam Joshi vows to eradicate hatred and discrimination

Sam Joshi, first Indian-American Mayor of Edison, N.J., speaking to the thousands of people who attended the official township Diwali celebrations. Photo: Raja Bhatty, ITV Gold

Edison, NJ, October 22: As the setting sun spread its soft reddish light over the sky, thousands of Edison residents gathered and waited impatiently to view the vibrant colors of fireworks – and they were not disappointed.

Thousands of people holding up diyas at the Oct. 22, 2022 Diwali celebrations in Edison, N.J. organized by the township led by Mayor Sam Joshi. Photo: Raja Bhatty, ITV Gold.

Lake Papaianni Park was turned into a wonderland to celebrate Diwali, an initiative led by Mayor Sam Joshi, and hosted by Edison Township, N.J.

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The youthful Indian-American Mayor of one of the most diverse cities in the nation, and his administration, decorated 22 acres of land surrounding a picturesque pond and transformed it into a fairyland. The momentousness of the scene was not lost to the men, women and children there to enjoy the festival that signifies the victory of good over evil, love over hate, and joy over despair. Children’s “oohs” and “aahs” and exclamations from adults could be heard over the sound of the impressive fireworks display.

Impressive fireworks display at Edison, N.J. Diwali celebrations October 22, 2022. Photo: ITV Gold

“We have organized the first Diwali festival with no cost to tax payers,” announced Mayor Joshi, who claimed that all expenses of the celebration were met through sponsorships. “I made calls to businesses and asked them to chip in and contribute with their presencnd e at this festival and the results are here for all to see and enjoy.” The Mayor had assigned Catriona Leary, a municipal employee, to supervise the decoration of the park.

The Mayor honored sponsors including Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, owner and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, as well as H. R. Shah, chairman of TV Asia, Patel Brothers, Indian Eye, Radio Mirchi, Radio Zindagi and other sponsors, the  vendors, BAPS and Radhakrishna temples for supporting the event.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, speaking on stage at the Oct. 22, 2022, Edison Township Diwali celebrations organized by Mayor Sam Joshi, in red kurta, and his administration, at Lake Papaianni Park. Also seen in photo, Dr. Sudha Parikh, 4th from left, Ilayas Quraishi, COO of PWM, 3rd from left, and on right, H.R. Shah of TV Asia. Photo: Raja Bhatty, ITV Gold

Addressing the crowd, Dr. Parikh said, “We are so lucky that our own person is the Mayor celebrating this important festival, the first in such an old and historic town.” Diwali is a very important festival in Indian culture he added and it was a great opportunity to celebrate it with the thousands of people, thousands of lights, and fireworks. Dr. Parikh also assured Mayor Joshi of Parikh Worldwide Media’s support for any endeavor the city requires. H.R. Shah also wished everyone a Happy Diwali.

The event stretched from 12 noon to 8 pm, with diya lighting taking place at 6 pm. The venue boasted more than 65,000 lights around Papaianni Park, thousands of battery-powered diyas distributed to attendees, and food, music, fireworks, dance and music performances which continued for more than five hours. The singers included Mangli (Satyavathi Rathod), and Mauli Dave, who came all the way from India.

Thousands enjoyed shopping at vendors’ booths set up at the Edison Township, N.J., Diwali celebrations at Papaianni Park, October 22, 2022. Photo: Raja Bhatty, ITV Gold

The Edison township Municipal administration had constructed 30 huts for vendors in the designated area of the parking lot.

“It’s a historic milestone to celebrate Diwali for the first time,” Mayor Joshi said, adding, “More than one-third of our township celebrates this holiday, but you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the beauty of light overcoming darkness.”

When the event was over Mayor Joshi tweeted, “We made history tonight hosting the biggest Diwali celebration NJ has ever seen thanks to each one of you. I want to thank every organizer and vendor for coming out and making this event so memorable.”

Local and state officials of New Jersey attended the October 22, 2022, Diwali celebrations hosted by Edison, N.J. Photo: Raja Bhatty, ITV Gold.

“On the behalf of my family and administration, I want to wish each and everyone of you a Happy, safe and prosperous Diwali!” he added urging people to share their photos and videos on his post or tag @mayorsamjoshi on Instagram.

“Can’t wait to see you next year!,” said the Mayor indicating his intent to make this an annual event.

In his passionate speech Mayor Joshi complemented the town folks for their compassion and understanding of diverse cultures. “We accepted immigrants from various parts of the world including Germans, Irish, Italians, Latin Americans, Korean, Chinese and Indians”, he said, “We opened our arms to welcome everyone.”

In his speech, Mayor Joshi also expressed his resolve for ‘non-tolerance of hate in our township’.

“Edison is a place for everyone from all backgrounds of people. While we are aware of instances of discrimination in our community, there is no room for hatred here”, he said.

Residents of Edison Township and elsewhere in New Jersey, came to witness the first official Diwali celebrations held there Oct. 22, 2022. Photo: Raja Bhatty, ITV Gold

More than one third of Edison township residents celebrate Diwali, which was more than a religious festival, Joshi noted. He thanked the older generation for their hard work and commitment on which the success of the younger generation was built.

The Township of Edison enjoyed the support of a wide spectrum of officials from the state evident in the presence of dozens of dignitaries from around New Jersey.

New Jersey State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, reminded the audience that Filipinos and Indian people got their rights for citizenship through naturalization, thanks to the Luce-Celler Act, and that “our parents couldn’t even vote 76 years ago’, but today was the day to be proud of being ‘Brown’.”

Led by council president Joseph Coyle, Edison council members, Ajay Patil, Joyce Ship-Freeman, Margot Harris, Nishith Patel supported the efforts of the Mayor to officially celebrate Diwali. Indian-American Council members form Piscataway and Woodbridge townships, Kapil Patil and Veeru Patel also expressed happiness over Diwali celebration by Edison Township.

Edison Public Schools  remained closed for Diwali on Monday, October 24.

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