Source: www.signonsandiego.comSAN DIEGO, CA, October 24, 2010: As the sun began to set Sunday night, volunteers lit the wicks of dozens of ornate brass lamps arranged near Balboa Park's Alcazar Garden. They were among the thousands of people who had gathered for the third annual Diwali Festival of Light, a little early, in San Diego. [HPI note: Diwali happens on November 4 (India) or 5 (America) this year, though local communities may celebrate them at different dates.]
The holiday is celebrated widely in India and by Indians around the world, said M.C.Madhavan, a professor emeritus of economics and Asian studies at San Diego State University and founder of the San Diego Indian American Society, which helped create the event. The lamps, which were made in India, symbolize fire, sun and the removal of darkness, he said. "It is the celebration of virtue over vice," Madhavan said. More than 1,000 more small lamps were later lit on stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
The Festival of Light has grown each year since it started in 2008, said Martha Ehringer, of the Mingei International Museum, which organized the event along with the San Diego Musem of Art and the San Diego Indian American Society. About 700 people attended that first year, then 3,000 last year. Thousands were expected again this year. "Every year it gets a little grander," Ehringer said.
Participants ate Indian food, got their hands designed with henna, and perused Indian comic books donated by a Bombay-based publishing company. Hundreds of people dressed in colorful traditional Indian garb marched and danced in a procession through the park.