By: Shama Harrysingh
CORAL SPRINGS – Divali, the Hindu festival of lights which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, is celebrated across the Hindu world including the Caribbean, and in cities in the United States of America where there is the presence of the Caribbean Diaspora.
Essential to the celebration of Divali are the rituals associated with the honoring of the goddess of wealth and prosperity, ‘Maha Lakshmi”. Of these rituals, Lakshmi pooja is the most integral. It takes place at 6pm, the time when, it is believed, that the Divine Mother visits every home.
The pooja is held in the pooja room which is elaborately decorated with statues and pictures of all the various deities along with that of Maha Lakshmi, which takes prominence. The householder performs the pooja offering five main items of worship namely water, chandan, flowers, artie and prasaad or sweets. At the conclusion of the pooja, honor must be paid to both the mother and father together with all the elders in the home. Following this, artie is waved throughout the home and then returned to the pooja room, a light is placed before Mother Lakshmi, and closing prayers are recited.
Then comes the moment everyone has been anxiously awaiting, the lighting of the deyas which are small vessels made of clay. The diyas are laid out in rows and are filled with oil. A cotton wick is placed in the diya and lighted. These twinkling diyas may be seen across extensive stretches of land, in the yards of homes, on front lawns, along the edges of walkways or on intricately designed bamboo arches. Modern embellishments have made their way into the traditional decorative style and strings of Christmas lights and decorative candles in many different colors add to the illumination on this night when there is joy and happiness as Maha Lakshmi is welcomed.
In South Florida, the non-profit organization, Divlai Nagar Inc., instituted four years ago, is committed to exposing the younger generation and other Caribbean and non-Caribbean people to our rich and diverse culture. The twenty-five member committee stages a three-day program of song, dance, music, displays of Indian art and craft, food and games to make the occasion of Divali a grand affair with participants from most countries in the Caribbean, Guyana, Canada as well as well as India and the Far East.
Prominent local and international artistes will be performing each night. Some of the performers this year are the popular ‘Shiv Shakti Dancers’ direct from Trinidad, the charismatic and distinguished singer, Terry Gajraj from NewYork, South Florida’s most gifted singer, originally from Penal Mala Samaroo, famous dance Choreographer Champa Chameli’s dance group, the talented Vidya Babwah Gosine, thirteen year old multi-talented Vashisht Panday and the popular Romeo and the Boyz tassa group and the vibrant Florida Melody Makers led by Neil Persad just to mention a few of the entertainers who would grace the three day event with with divine melodies .
There would be vendor booths from which can be enjoyed tasty, ethnic, vegetarian cuisine as well as Indian sweets and delicacies. There would be cultural seminars and kids’ workshops on the site and children can participate in several very interesting and educational cultural learning experiences.
Divali Nagar Inc., a non-profit corporation, was formed in September of 2008 here in Ft Lauderdale Florida. The first celebration took place at the prestigious Broward Cricket Park in Lauderhill, Florida for Divali 2008. There were dances, songs, music, food and other entertainment for all. ‘This was the foundation for the now vibrant and functional Divali Nagar committee here in the USA.
Divali Nagar, Inc sees this three-day Divali celebration as a powerful, educational tool. The committee continues to engender and maintain a value system that is based on respect for the differences of each culture.
The group adheres to the view that a strong community builds strong cities and strong cities build a strong nation.
Neil Persad, President and one of the founding members said, “The celebration is open to the public and we have already begun a huge marketing campaign with the local media as well as the social networks so that we can bring all groups and facets of our diverse community together in one huge forum. Our goal is to bridge the gap between generations as well as cultural and ethnic borders so that we can further unite the small pockets of various ethnic groups here in our community.”
Divali Nagar is for everyone. On this auspicious and momentous occasion, let us prayer for peace throughout the world.
On behalf of The Divali Nagar Committee, welcome to our Fourth Divali celebrations commencing on October 21st through October at the renowned Coral Springs Sportsplex, Coral Springs, Florida
We invite you to join us and light a diya in honor of Maha Lakshmi. “Let the lights of Divali illuminate your year ahead”.
Have an enjoyable Divali and may Maha Lakshmi shower you with her blessings.
For more information, or to be a part of the entertainment program please call them at (954) 846-9895, (954) 846-9895 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.divalinagar.us
Shama Harrysingh is known for her outstanding involvement in charitable organizations, social services and community matters.
She is active in the Trinidad & Tobago’s diaspora in South Florida. She has volunteered for several organizations including The Humanitarian Society of Boca Raton, Sun Fest in West Palm Beach, Florida’s largest annual music,art & waterfront festival. the 44th Super Bowl in Miami in 2010 She is currently a volunteer for the City of Boca Raton where she teaches a Literacy class twice a week enabling the city to enhance services and expand programs for the benefit of the citizens, employees & visitors.
She is PRO for Divali Nagar Us.,one of the largest outdoor Hindu Festivals in North America, working with dedicated members to share their rich and diverse culture with other nations and “to get younger generation involved and hold on to their values and principles which had sustained their forefathers for centuries.” Shama
Shama has produced 2 radio programs, WAVS 1170AM, WHSR 980am.
Divesity and inclusion are important in our community to make our environment a healthy one culturally and socially.