Heavy Rain Fails to dampen NY Diwali Celebration among Guyanese
Heavy rain throughout Tuesday (continuing from Monday) including steady showers well into the evening did not put much of a damper on the Diwali celebration in the Big Apple. The heavy showers did affect the lighting of deyas outside of homes and in the public arena in the greater New York area. However, Guyanese and other Indo-Caribbeans and nationals from other countries decorated the exterior of homes with electronic lights that flickered through the darkest night of the autumn when Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is celebrated.
Rows and rows of lights and rangoli designs, a feature of celebrations in previous years, were sparse this year because of the heavy downpour. Also, the fire crackers noise and sparkles were absent. But the celebrations went on.
Diwlai celebrations were introduced in America by immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia. The immigrants were inspired by the celebrations institutionalized by their ancestors who came from India to the Caribbean since the 1830s and from the Caribbean to the USA and other countries where the Indo-Caribbeans also introduced Diwali. Some half a million Indo-Caribbean people are settled in the greater New York area and tens of thousands more are settled in Florida and some other states; the greater majority are Guyanese. Festivals help to promote and preserve Indo-Caribbean culture.
As one traveled around Indo-Caribbean neighborhoods in Queens, New York, entire streets and neighborhoods were lit up. The same was reported in Guyanese communities in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Homes and mandirs were adorned with brightly glowing colorful lights of varied designs including those with the deya structure. Lit clay deyas assembled on verandahs and porches protected from the rain. Lit deyas also spread out inside homes and temples accompanied with flickering lights – making the inside of buildings spectacles to behold.
Unfortunately, celebrants had to battle the rain and wind to keep diyas lit outside. Some used creative and innovative methods like putting deyas inside metal cans to protect them from the rain. And in spite of the rain that forced celebrants inside, it was a festive mood everywhere. Most Hindus took time off from their jobs to prepare for the celebration. Elaborate meals were prepared prior to the ceremony. Family members gathered together for puja or worshipping of Goddess Lakshmi early in the evening. Deyas lit up inside people’s homes, stores, places of worship, and public parks. Hindus lit their deyas and then feasted on a variety of dishes and delicious delicacies. They shared foods with neighbors and friends as is the custom during the festival.
Many visited the Mandirs some of which hosted cultural programs of singing, dancing and speeches on the meaning of Diwali. Devotees feasted on a variety of foods prepared specially for the occasion. Celebrants said they had a wonderful time at home and in the mandirs observing the festival.
Separately, Diwali was celebrated over the weekend with the annual motorcade that is in its 20th. edition.