Over 5,000 attend the City of Aurora's festival of lights, Diwali

  • The City of Aurora's Diwali celebration attracts about 5,000 people to Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora.

    The City of Aurora's Diwali celebration attracts about 5,000 people to Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora. Courtesy of Suresh Bodiwala

 
Submitted by Suresh Bodiwala
Updated 11/12/2018 7:07 PM

About 5,000 people attended the Diwali celebrations, organized by the City of Aurora's Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board, on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora. Chairman Gautam Bhatia said, "This is the largest attendance we have had in five years, thanks to the efforts of the entire board over the last three months."

Among the dignitaries who attended were Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin; Aldermen Rick Mervine, Judd Lofchie, Edward Bugg, Michael Saville and Sherman Jenkins; state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit; state Sen. Linda Holmes; U.S. Rep. Bill Foster; U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi; Indian Consul General in Chicago Neeta Bhushan; Dr. Romi Chopra of MIMIT HealthCare; and Swetal Patel of Patel Brothers who pledged $5,000 to the Swami Vivekananda Scholarship Fund.

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Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights celebrates the victory of good over evil, as symbolized by the triumph of the God Rama over the demon King Ravana.

For non-Indians the evening served as a fascinating introduction to traditional Indian music and dances with performances ranging from Ganesh Vandhana to Koli dance, Garba and the more contemporary Bollywood fusion. Volunteers included several high school students who collaborated with advisory board members in making the event a resounding success. The master of ceremonies for the event was Ajai Kumar. The evening concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

The advisory board's mission is to embrace, preserve and promote the heritage and contributions of Indian American's while promoting civic engagement and encouraging Indian Americans to increase their involvement in Aurora's growth.

Indians are the fasted growing immigrant community in Aurora, the second largest city in the state of Illinois.

In 2017, the advisory board established the Swami Vivekananda scholarship fund. Scholarships are awarded to college-bound high school seniors, who have demonstrated exemplary community service. In 2018, the advisory board awarded five scholarship of $1,000 each. In 2019, the advisory board will award ten $1,000 scholarships, thanks in part to support of MIMIT HealthCare and Patel Brothers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk who introduced Hinduism to the West with a resounding speech at the first Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893.

Most recently, the Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board has organized an interactive public awareness and civic education discussion on depression and mental health problems among the young, in cooperation with Sanjeevani, an organization which assists people with mental health and domestic violence issues.

The Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board seeks Aurora residents with an aptitude for community service to join the board. For details, email to AuroraIndianBoard@gmail.com.

For more information about the scholarship, go to www.communityfoundationfrv.org.

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