By Lakshmee Singh (Diyva Jyoti Association)

Deepavali or Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, will be observed on Wednesday, November 7th 2018 by Hindus in North America. In Queens, New York it will be celebrated in a very spectacular and joyous manner on Saturday, November 3rd 2018 starting at 3:00 PM with Lakshmi Pooja and Havan at The Arya Spiritual Grounds (133rd Street/Liberty Avenue). Then at 5:30 PM, thousands of celebrants will join the annual Diwali Motorcade/Parade that will travel down Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill, Queens. The Diwali Motorcade/Parade, that has become a much anticipated major cultural event within the Indo-Caribbean community in Queens, will conclude with a grand cultural extravaganza at 7:30 PM at the Arya Spiritual Center Ground on 133rd Street on a high and festive note featuring a spectacular display of local young talents.

As usual, there will be many amazing gorgeously decorated floats, aglow with myriads of lights and colors, that glints on a sea of beaming faces invoking an atmosphere of exotic beauty and spiritual joy. Exquisitely attired young beauties will grace the floats with their presence as Mother Lakshmi – and as usual – mesmerize the crowd with their angelic dispositions.

Presented by the Divya Jyoti Association and the Arya Spiritual Center, the celebration will kick-off at 5:30 PM from the Arya Spiritual Center grounds at 104-20 133rd St with the Diwali Motorcade/Parade and veer left on Liberty passing the Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir to 123 Street, then turn right to 103 Avenue where it will again turn right at 133 St passing Sybils Bakery, and then finally return to Arya Spiritual Grounds where the floats will be judged. The floats in the motorcade will be judged on a predetermined set of criteria related to creativity, beauty, relevance and originality.

The festival of lights is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others in South Asia. The five-day festival is centered on the new moon and is observed by lighting diyas — simple oil lamps — to signify the victory of good over evil in the individual. Diwali celebrations span a five-day period, each day being assigned a special significance as ordained by Hindu doctrine. The first day of Diwali, known as “Dhan-trayodashi,” is a day during which one gives thanks for all spiritual and material wealth in one’s life.

Jamaica, Queens resident Meera Singh said Diwali always reminds her of her native Trinidad, where she was born, raised and spent many years celebrating this festival of lights.

“I grew up into the religion,” said Singh, who spent the holiday in Richmond Hill for the first time. “In Trinidad at this time of year, we have a big celebration for the festival of lights, and I wanted to see if it was as big here as it is there.”

“Every year people come out and decorate in honor of the Goddess Lakshmi. We only have two major holidays in the Hindu religion. We’re looking to make Diwali a major community event, and it has been growing over the years. We’re very excited about it,” said Lakshmee Singh, the coordinator of the Diwali Motorcade & Parade festivities.

Lakshmee hopes the popular annual event will continue to attract people of all walks of life, while at the same time it presents an opportunity for the community to bond together as one – in the true spirt of the celebration of lights.