MILLBURN, NJ - With rain pouring down all morning, The Millburn/Short Hills Desi Club (MSHDC) almost canceled their annual Diwali celebration. But with a fortunate reversal in the weather, and a temperate evening, the festivities were a go.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, and holds roughly the same importance in the Hindu spiritual calendar as Christmas does to Christians.
Yesterday evening marked the third year that the MSHDC was able to celebrate and set off their display of fireworks in Taylor Park, a ritual that usually accompanies Diwali in India. The proceedings were supervised by members of the Millburn Fire Department to insure safety.
At the same time fireworks were being set off, children and adults waived sparklers around in the air, bringing zips of light swinging out of the surrounding darkness.
Speaking with TAPinto, Sapna Gupta and Savita Sahay, both directors with the MSHDC, said that being able to celebrate the holiday was incredibly important to them.
Gupta specifically said that in the decades since she moved to America, being able to not only celebrate the holiday, but to do in Millburn/Short Hills regularly is nothing short of amazing.
"I've been in this country for 30 plus years," Gupta said. "It's really a matter of pride for all of us and...the community is coming together. This is how it is done in India. We come out, we play, we distribute sweets, and we play with firecrackers, so it is like home away from home."
In the crowd that gathered to celebrate, multiple generations mingled and watched the fireworks display that burned brightly for almost an hour.
As Sahay noted in response to a question about the multiple generations of people enjoying the festivities, events like the Diwali celebration are the perfect chance for parents to share their traditions with their children.
"I think it's a very natural thing," Sahay said. "Almost all religious and cultural things are based on a side angle of passing on your nostalgia onto your kids. I think in a foreign country for the first 15-20 years, I didn't think it was possible.
"But now that it is possible, that our kids can see Diwali the way we saw it when we were little kids. I think it is great to provide this platform to the younger parents who, many of them tell us, could never believe that they would see Diwali through their kid's eyes. So I think for me, it is a very teary-eyed moment."