Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2015 8:00 am
In a swirl of lights, food, music and dancers in multicolored costumes, the Hindu Association of West Texas’ annual Diwali “Festival of Lights” celebration will take place from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Horseshoe Pavilion south of Midland.
Participants from 300 Hindu families and as many as 1,000 spectators are expected for the celebration, said Dr. Bhuvana Balasekaran, a Midland family practitioner who is the event’s cultural chairman.
“It’s our main event of the year,” Balasekaran said. “It represents the victory of good over evil, and it’s a time for different families to interact and get to know one another.”
She said there will be “rangoli” displays of sand art at the entrance, and the evening will progress with dancing by 50 elementary, junior high and high school students from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m., followed by more live and recorded music and line dancing for everyone who feels the inclination. Vendors will sell Indian candies, foods, clothes, costumes and jewelry.
Balasekaran said the traditional midnight fireworks display was turned down by the Midland County Fire Marshal’s Office.
She said most of the Permian Basin’s Hindu population is evenly divided between Odessa and Midland, but the HAWT Temple at 4401 Cardinal Lane in Midland also has members in Andrews, Big Spring, Monahans, Crane, McCamey and Fort Stockton. “It will be very colorful,” Balasekaran said.
“The rangoli designs will use lots of colors mixed with sand, and the designs are up to everybody’s own imagination,” Basalekharan said. “The best ones will win.”
Balasekaran said native dancing will be combined with the “Bollywood” style, which is “a fusion of traditional and classical Indian dances with the influence of some jazz, hip-hop and modern dance,” according to thebollywooddancemania.com website.
She noted that Diwali also begins Hindus’ new fiscal year.
Dancers Samiksha Deme and Vijay Balasekaran, the doctor’s son, said in an interview at the Midland temple that they had been rehearsing for about a month. “A lot of people want to learn more about Indian culture, so they come to see what we’re doing every time Diwali comes around,” said Samiksha, a Midland Lee High School junior.
“It’s one of the few times we can all come together and celebrate what it means to be a Hindu in West Texas. Dancing has always been deeply rooted in Indian religion and culture.”
The teens said traditional dances and Bollywood variations will be demonstrated by dancers grouped according to genders and ages. “A lot of the songs are from recent movies and have a touch of western styles,” Samiksha said.
Vijay, a Diwali dancer since age 5, said some dances celebrate the return of the mythological hero Lord Rama and his wife Sita after their exile and triumph over evil. “I feel like there is a welcoming of diversity,” the Odessa High School senior said.
“A couple of days ago, I went to school in Indian clothes for a history project, and the kids were interested in what I was wearing,” Vijay said. “Each dance has a different meaning, and the different moves tie back in culturally or historically.
“There is more finesse in the classical dances. With the Bollywoods, there’s a lot of jumping around and having fun.”
With about 900 million adherents, Hinduism is the third most popular religion, behind Christianity and Islam, and “is the product of religious development in India that spans nearly 4,000 years, making it the oldest surviving world religion,” according to religionfacts.com.