Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” is to Hindus what Christmas is to Christians.
The ancient Hindu festival celebrates the victory of light over dark and good over evil, says Jay Patel, founder and organizer of the annual Diwali event by the Indian Community of Colorado Springs. 22 photos
“In the Hindu religion, Lord Rama came down as a king and conquered evil,” Patel says, “and as he was marching back from victory with his army, to make sure there was no more darkness in the world at night, he had lights all over his path going back to his kingdom.”
India’s biggest and most important holiday is celebrated across five days, with gatherings for meals, food exchanges, ceremonies, rituals, prayers and fireworks. Much like Christmas, children receive presents and have the time off from school. Diwali also marks the beginning of the new year.
Though the holiday already took place in India last month, a local celebration happens Saturday at Coronado High School. This year’s program, “Mohabbatein … Immortal Love Stories of India,” is followed by a catered Indian dinner.
Patel describes the two-hour show as Bollywood-like, with a 160-person cast and 30-person crew.
“It’s a Broadway-quality Indian musical that features folk, classical and modern dances and live music,” he says.
Patel started the event in 1978 as a way to pass the Indian culture down to the children in the Indian community. After 9/11, he decided to donate all of the event proceeds to local charities. More than $300,000 has been given to organizations like Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region, the local branch of the American Red Cross, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Waldo Canyon restoration efforts and the police and fire departments.
This year, proceeds go to Community Advancing Public Safety, a program that allows citizens to help enhance the effectiveness of public safety agencies.
“After 9/11, instead of keeping a low profile, we wanted to make sure we stood up as American citizens,” Patel says. “We’re proud to be one and live here in this community, and wanted to do something for the greater community.”
“Mohabbatein…Immortal Love Stories of India.”
By the Indian Community of Colorado Springs, 4 p.m. Saturday, Coronado High School, 1590 W. Fillmore St., $15-$25, includes Indian dinner after the show; 440-0675, 242-6206, 389-1251.