On Sunday, October 30th 2022, the Montclair Art Museum hosted a Diwali celebration. Diwali “is observed on the 15th day of the 8th month (the month of Kartik) in India's calendar” (Laura). This year it fell on Monday October 24th 2022.
It’s an important yearly celebration of the triumph of good over evil. “Diwali is the day Lord Rama, his wife Sita Devi and brother Lakshmana return to their homeland after 14 years in exile. The villagers lit a path for Rama, who had defeated the demon king Ravana” (Birtles).
The event was organized by AAPI Montclair, “a grassroots…nonprofit that advocates for and uplifts Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Montclair, NJ area and across New Jersey” (AAPI Montclair). Through their efforts, the Museum was the site of a wide array of tables featuring Asian and Pacific Islander art, clothing, books, and food.
Guests could enjoy curries, naan, and samosas while they browsed colorful scarves, striking jewelry, Bollywood trivia games, and books written for all ages.
One featured children’s book was “Brown is Beautiful” written by Supriya Kelkar and illustrated by Noor Sofi. It celebrated the beauty of brown-ness, a feature many people have internalized mixed feelings about in a country that prioritizes whiteness. Another book was cultivated by a group called SAADA (South Asian American Digital Archive). They took down real stories from American immigrants and amassed those personal histories into a collection called “Our Stories: An Introduction to South Asian America.”
Additionally, visitors were enthralled with various performances that took place on a stage set up on the lawn. Along with numerous dances, viewers were entertained with a re-enactment of the story behind the celebration of Diwali. Children from the audience were called on stage and given instructions and props as they acted out each role and illustrated the victory of light over darkness.
Finally, BollyX closed the stage with a dance class that taught the audience some Bollywood moves. This event was an important effort by AAPI and the Montclair Art Museum to showcase and celebrate not only Diwali, but Asian/Pacific Islander culture, and foster pride in the beauty of these cultures.
Https://aapimontclair.org/ continues to list any upcoming events, including a Lunar New Year Celebration that will be held at Montclair Art Museum on Saturday January 28th 2023.
AAPI Montclair. “Aapi Montclair.” AAPI Montclair, 2022, https://aapimontclair.org/.
Birtles, Katie. “What Is the Diwali Festival, and How Is It Celebrated?” Real Word, Trafalgar, 12 July 2022, https://www.trafalgar.com/real-word/diwali-story/#:~:text=In%20one%20of%20the%20main,of%20celebrations%20in%20some%20regios.
Laura. “What Are Diwali Dates from 2022 to 2030?” Date in India Calendar and Lakshmi Puja Muhurat, Asia Highlights, 4 Nov. 2022, https://www.asiahighlights.com/india/when-is-diwali.