Cary Diwali 2013 – Darpan
By Remitha Satheesh
Do you know what the second largest event held at the Koka Booth Amphitheater every year is? It is an event, which drew 12,500 people this year and has turned out to be one of the most anticipated events in North Carolina’s cultural calendar. It is Cary Diwali, organized by Hum Sub, the organization that has been bringing together Indians in the Triangle for the past 13 years.
Cary Diwali has grown considerably since its inception in 2001 when it was held as an indoor event, which hoped to draw in around 800 people at the most. The number of people that walked in through the doors that year was around 1500. It surely was a sign of things to come and definitely not something that could be contained within the walls of any building. Consequently, the venue moved to the huge outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheater, which was the only place that could handle an event of that magnitude.
Since then, Cary Diwali has been going from strength to strength, and currently in its 13th year, it is proving that 13 is by no means an unlucky number. If you had any doubts, just look at the crowd of 12,500 that braved the blustery fall weather and chilly evening drizzle to be at the grounds on October 19th and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the wonder that is India!
Every year, Cary Diwali celebrates a core idea that brings to these shores a slice of India, introducing to the multicultural audience here, yet another aspect of the rich medley that India is. This year’s theme was ‘Darpan’ or ‘Reflections of India’ and the event was truly a reflection of India’s inherent beauty, diversity and vibrancy. It captured the different facets and interpretations of India through various performances on stage, exhibition, handicrafts and food.
After the traditional ceremony of lighting the lamp and address by the dignitaries, the local talents took to the stage in full swing. And as always, it is heartening to see non- Indians hold their own with their Indian counterparts as they sashay to the latest Bollywood hits or step to classical numbers.
Traditionally, Hum Sub holds an exhibition at Koka Booth Amphitheater in association with Cary Diwali and this year was special with a photography exhibition based on the theme – Reflections of India through My Lens. Everyone who travels to India brings back a piece of the country in their cameras – whether simple, on their mobile phones or using the latest high tech digital equipment. Most of them lie languishing in hard disks or get shared in a few personal emails or social media. Hum Sub just decided to give a wider audience to these professional and amateur photographers.
Therefore, this year’s exhibition featured a most interesting array of photographs reflecting the flora, fauna, culture, people, relationships and the ethos of India in a way that no words could do justice to. The photos captured ranged from ones depicting the dappled morning sunlight bathing a bullock cart and radiant smiles, to ones with laborious paintings on the bodies of Pulikkali dancers, to houseboats and spices to the multitudes gathered on a seashore. The exhibition seemed to bring to Cary a slice of almost every aspect of Indian life. And as the people walked by the exhibits, they smiled, sighed, frowned, wondered or just indulged in good old nostalgia as each and every one of those pictures spoke to them more than a thousand words and evoked a multitude of emotions.
There were also demonstrations and displays of the art of Rangoli or colorful decorations drawn out in doorsteps of Indian homes as a sign of welcome, auspiciousness or just sheer beauty. Just like every state in India has its own distinct culture and traditions, the art of Rangoli also has its own variations across the different states. From rice flour to rock powder to grains and flowers, several colorful materials are used to draw these aesthetically pleasing designs that follow both geometric and free flowing patterns.
And children of all ages displayed their skills of Rangoli with street walk chalk out on the walkways or tested their knowledge of India in a quiz held inside the exhibition tent.
Meanwhile, up in the Crescent area of the Amphitheater, the various stalls selling handicrafts, jewelry, accessories, Indian clothes and books did roaring business. It would not be a stretch to say that Cary Diwali has evolved into a red-letter day on the shopping calendar of the women folk in the area, with the vendors outdoing one another in sourcing merchandise catering to the hottest trends in India.
Needless to say, the stalls selling piping hot Indian food served by Indian restaurants in the area struggled to keep up with the demand from hungry customers. And even if you weren’t hungry, the chilly air, thick with the fragrance of exotic Indian spices soon had you drooling in line at the food stalls.
Come evening and it was time for the most anticipated event of the day – the show by a celebrity from India, specially invited by Hum Sub for Cary Diwali. This year, the performer was none other than Alisha Chinai, the Queen of Indian Pop Music. She delivered hit after hit with her numerous albums and parallel Bollywood playback career. But she will always be known as the “Made in India Girl” after her super duper hit that took the nation by storm. She took to the stage belting out this crowd puller at full throttle. As for the crowd, it rose to the occasion, braving the drizzle, which tried to play spoil sport as a memorable day was drawing to a close. People sat around with or without umbrellas, determined not to let such a thing as a pesky drizzle interfere with their enjoyment of what promised to be a wonderful evening.
Pepping up things on stage, adding to Alisha’s music, were our own local talents, dancers with their energetic performance, keeping pace with the peppy numbers. This year saw one of the biggest crowds for the evening’s performance and no one seemed to be in a hurry to leave till Ms.Chinai finished up with another of her biggest hits, Kajrare, from Bunty Aur Babli.
After that, of course, it was time for the grand finale – the fireworks. The evening sky was lit up with a spectacular display of fireworks and the grounds erupted in “ooohs and aahs” as yet another Diwali came to a close in Cary.
Once again, the Hum Sub team had put on a wonderful display of India’s myriad colors and in the process, raised the awareness of its rich and varied culture and heritage, not just among the different communities in the Triangle area, but also among the younger generations, thus playing an invaluable role in influencing molding them into being knowledgeable, appreciative, and responsible citizens of tomorrow.
Hum Sub offers its sincere thanks to all volunteers, vendors, visitors, performers, guests and sponsors for helping make Cary Diwali 2013 a resounding success!