“Jhankis” like the one above were a highlight of the celebrations at the FOG Diwali this year. They involved multiple generations of families and friends to tell the story of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, and the significance of Diwali which was celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil. (Courtesy: Ritu Maheshwari)
A grand Diwali celebration with Fireworks was held at Alameda County Fair Grounds in Pleasanton, Calif., Oct. 24. The community joined in large numbers to celebrate the Diwali festival with spectacular fireworks and laser show, writes Ritu Maheshwari.
The FOG Diwali had something for everyone. Cultural programs, Ramleela, a dazzling parade, fancy costumes, fashion show, kids corner, train ride, petting zoo, and animal rides, were some of the attractions.
A worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity was followed by jhankis and a parade. Shopping for jewelry, clothes, and delicious food was abundantly available at the large mela of booths.
A free health fair offered medical checkups to visitors that included blood pressure monitoring, BMI check, Body fat analysis, and free flu shots. There was a unique contest “Kaun Banega Best Rama.” Children dressed up as Lord Rama. An iPad was awarded to the best-dressed “Rama” selected by a panel of judges. Parents used this opportunity to share with their children, the story behind Diwali.
Selfies with TV star Shabir Ahluwalia from Zee TV show “Kumkum Bhagya” was hugely popular as the crowd lined up to get their pictures taken at the Zee TV booth.
“It’s a small world,” a quiz where kids learned about the rich culture, dances, costumes, monuments, places, and information about states from all over India. Everyone had a chance to collect information, participate in quizzes, win prizes, and have fun while learning.
Describing the significance of the event, Dr. Romesh Japra, founder and convener of FOG said, “FOG Diwali is one of the best ways for parents to keep their children in touch with the cultural roots and teach them key values that sustain us for life. It is very special occasion for community to come together and keep the traditions alive. This year we have made this festival global to include wider community and spread the love. Only when we have strong roots, can we grow and prosper in this land of opportunities.”