It is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year.
The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of lamps (deepa) that are lit to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness.
Many in India worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. People open their doors and windows and light lamps to invite Lakshmi into their homes.
Diwali has become a national festival enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.
The stories of Diwali change depending on where you live in India. In the north, Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after he defeated the demon Ravana. In South India, it celebrates Lord Krishna’s slaying of the demon Narakasura. In western India, Diwali marks the day Lord Vishnu (one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity) sent the demon King Bali to rule the netherworlds. The common thread in all these stories? The victory of good over evil.
COMMUNITY DIWALI CELEBRATION
Where: Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside
When: 4 to 5 p.m., social hour. 5 to 8:15 p.m., show.
What: Twenty-eight different bands
Who: The event is open to anyone, whether Hindu or not.
On Saturday, Nov. 21, about 1,500 people are expected to attend a Riverside celebration of Deepavali, or Diwali — one of India’s biggest and most important holidays of the year.
The five-day Hindu celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrates the victory of good over evil.
The Hindu Society of Inland Empire is hosting the celebration at the Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Ave. The event is free and open to anyone, whether Hindu or not. More than 20 bands from different regions of India will perform. Some performances will be religious, while others will be hip-hop and Bollywood-style. Social hour begins at 4 p.m.
In the past, the celebration was held at a UC Riverside theater, but in 2014 it was moved to the Fox to accommodate more people. The festival has grown in recent years as the temple wanted more non-Hindus from throughout the area to attend.
“The community has grown so much in the last ten years,” said Dharmesh Kumar Patel, president of Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, the Hindu temple in Riverside.
The event’s growth coincides with the increasing number of people of Indian ancestry choosing to live in Riverside County.
The number of people of Asian Indian ancestry in Riverside County more than doubled between 2005 and 2013, from just over 6,100 to nearly 12,500, U.S. Census Bureau estimates show.