[Letters] Indians in Korea celebrated Diwali in a grand wayIndians In Korea (IIK) celebrated the festival of lights, Diwali, on a grand scale in the auditorium of the Balcanto Art Center at The University of Suwon on Nov. 11. It was both a modern and traditional celebration that was entertainment for families, students and community members. IIK Diwali Dhamaka showcased the significance and meaning of Diwali to an audience of more than 500, which included a colorful mix of guests from both the Indian community in Korea and the wider Korean and foreign community.
The program began with lighting a traditional lamp by chief guest, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of India in Seoul Jeeva Sagaralong with his wife Mrs. Srilata Sagar and dean of academic affairs Prof. Park Moon Su of the University of Suwon. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Sagar recognized the hard work of IIK board members, volunteers to made this event successful. He also briefly spoke about the history of Diwali and the significance of celebrating the festival. He said: “The origin of Diwali lies in varied legends and mythologies of the ancient Indian scriptures, mostly the Puranas.
“However, all of them have a common message: they all depict the triumph of the good over the evil. India is a land of festivals. Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated with fervor and gaiety. The festival is celebrated by the young and the old, the rich and the poor, throughout the country to dispel darkness and light up their lives.”
He said that the festival symbolized unity in diversity as everybody in India celebrates Diwali in its own special way. While Diwali was popularly known as the “festival of lights,” the most significant spiritual meaning was “the awareness of the inner light.” Diwali is the celebration of this inner light, in particular knowing what outshines the darkness of all obstacles and dispels all ignorance, awakening the individual to one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality,” he added.
The evening’s MCs introduced us to what would be a lively blend of cute Indian children with fancy dresses. Angel’s Kindergarten, the only Indian school in Korea, showed lot of dedication to bring these cute kids on stage with different attire symbolizing various iconic figures. It was amazing to see the Indian dance performance by Korean dancers from the Indian Cultural Center at the Seoul Indian embassy.
The stage was set alight with a blazing bharatnatyam-based children’s dance (apalam chapalam), Bollywood numbers like “Barso Re Megha” and “Aika Dajiba,” children’s punjabi bhangra, fusion dances by kids (“Pappa, Can I Dance?”), dandiya-garba dance, marathi lavani dances with elegance and finally the “Magic of Arabia.” Another highlight was the hilarious comic-inspired raffle lucky draw show - the MC stole the show with his impeccable comic timing and used members of the audience to help him unveil his bag of tricks!
The formalities were concluded with a raffle draw where the winner would enjoy free Air India tickets to India, a highlight at the end. As the night went on, DJs led the audience in an interactive Bollywood dance number, opening the floor up for the guests and audience to dance in true festive fashion to DJ Dimple’s latest assortment of Bollywood chartbusters.
The evening was captured through the artistic eye of the IIK photographers team. At the end guests enjoyed delicious Indian cuisine off of Chakraa Indian Restaurant’s celebrated menu. Served in a classic style, each and every dish - from the aalu-wada, paneer butter masala to the famous gulab kamun and laddu for dessert - was prepared with flawless attention to presentation and detail.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening, IIK’s crew left no stone unturned to provide guests with a lavish and delectable feast for all the senses - in essence, wholesome entertainment in true Indian style!
by Dr. Rohidas Arote Assistant professor at Seoul National University