Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Diwali celebration at Pelham Art Center illuminates Indian culture to bring community together

The Pelham Art Center hosted its annual Diwali celebration on Nov. 19 to raise awareness of this important holiday in several Indian religions. The art center highlighted the non-religious depiction of the Festival of Lights because it shares the universal theme of celebrating good over evil.

“I think everyone has an inner light that they can share with others and help others to spread their own lights as well,” said Sonika Gupta, the education and programs coordinator at the art center. “The aim is to spread positivity, hope and joy, and to wish good health and prosperity for everyone.”

Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness and is a time for families to come together, eat delicious sweets and exchange gifts. On Diwali night, people light their homes with diyas (oil lamps) and enjoy fireworks.

Diwali is named the Festival of Lights because people light up their homes with the diyas to celebrate the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after their victory over the demon king Ravana. This victory emphasized good over evil and the importance of righteousness.

“Indian culture is so full of life and vibrant and what better way to express it than dance?” said Gupta. “It’s the most pure expression of joy and happiness.”

The art center held various programs and performances throughout the event. This included a kid’s art workshop conducted by Priya Nag and a setup for photos with a festive backdrop.

The first performance was from Dr. Annidita Ganguly’s Swapna Dance Academy, performing three dances using the classical style of Kathak, an ancient traditional dance in India dating from 400 B.C. Kathak dancing is a very expressive form that tells a story. The academy was followed by a Bollywood fusion dance by Heena Jain and her students from Pelham Middle School. The third performance was by classical Indian magician Dr. Shreeyash Palshikar.

Supriya Jain, a mother of a Kathak dance student, said, “If she loves this dance, she will want to continue the heritage, and that’s the beauty of it all.”

“People are very close-minded these days especially with what is going on in the world, so sharing the culture and experiences we had growing up is really important,” said Joya Syed, a senior dancer for the Swapna Dance Academy. “Growing up, I never had any representation and so to be sharing that with younger kids is very important to me.”

Rosa Van Zandt, gallery and events manager at the art center, said, “It’s so important to always be open minded and to be a learner throughout your life. There are so many different beautiful elements in cultures, such as music, food and everything else in between, and I think that it is just so important for us to surround ourselves with different cultures because you can learn so much from the people around you.”


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About the Contributor
Sandra Chalissery, Staff Reporter
Sandra Chalissery is in the graduating class of 2026 at Pelham Memorial High School. She’s been on the Pelham Examiner since March 2021. Besides being a reporter for the Pelham Examiner, she has no idea what she wants to do with her life. Financial corporate lawyer? Hypergravity physicist? Journalist? She has no clue. But besides being confused about life, she plays the violin and piano, likes math, runs track, and loves talking to people. She is on the honors/AP track in high school. She is almost trilingual. She enjoys singing, painting, and going to the gym. She loves her beagle and she loves her South Indian culture.

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