By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine
RICHMOND HILL, QUEENS, NY — The moon took the place of the sun and it became warmer. The Divine Mother had intervened to guarantee the success of the Diwali Motorcade and Cultural Program. The thousands that came onto the streets saw magnificent floats and costumes and beautifully lit diyas that adorned the floats. It was Hindu culture in all its glory in Richmond Hill, New York. The Diwali Motorcade had come of age.
Mother Lakshmee, in whose name the celebrations are held, chose well. Lakshmee Singh wore many titles. She was director, producer, and the conductor in a well-oiled symphony. She also understood the importance of technology and used the social media to its capacity.
But Lakshmee also has a keen sense for drama and inclusion. This resulted in a cross-section of the community turning up and feeling involved. Pandit Ravi Maharaj from the Queens Hindu Mandir and Pandit Bharat Singh from the Arya Spiritual Center conducted the Havan ceremony. They hail from Trinidad and Guyana, respectively. There were devotees from Canada, Suriname, India, Jamaica, the USA and other far-flung reaches of our country.
As the Grand Marshall, I invited 1,000 persons to walk with me but I was in for a surprise. Over 2,000 persons joined me and the Motorcade itself had more than 10,000 participants, making it the biggest and brightest ever in the community. Several streets had to be closed and hundreds were turned away from the Arya Spiritual Center Ground.
Our Pandits excelled too; greetings were extended to all of them for their sterling contribution to the community. Pandit Chunelall Narine recited special mantras in the late afternoon sun and broke the coconut and we knew that we were embracing history.
The rhythm of the tassa, children bedecked as Hindu deities, religious music from the magnificent floats and diyas flickering in the dusk, ensured that Mother Lakshmi was firmly planted on the Avenue of freedom. A diya was lit in the White House and flickers have brightened dark places around the world.
The excellent videography by ‘The Quint’ on the Diwali celebrations worldwide has gone viral. It shows the global reach of the festival in restoring good over evil and dispelling darkness. May there be light in every heart in the days ahead.
SCENES FROM DIWALI MOTORCADE 2017 (PHOTOS BY TONY TONE):