It’s in Queens
#PickoftheWeek | Diwali Motorcade is Saturday!
The streets of Richmond Hill are about to overflow with colorful saris, spiritual music, ornate vehicles, dancing, chanting, and sweet bites.
Diwali Motorcade 2018 is set to kick off at 133rd Street and Liberty Avenue on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 5:30 pm. A joyous group will walk, play tassa drums, drive motorcycles, and sing and wave as they ride illuminated floats down Liberty to 123rd Street. They’ll take a right and another right on 103rd Avenue and head back to 133rd Street for a stage show in front of Sybil’s Bakery.
Judges will review the floats – most of which are sponsored by local and national businesses, nonprofits, and Hindu groups — on their creativity, elegance, originality, and relevance to Diwali. (Cash prizes for the winners!)
Diwali is an annual Hindu celebration of good over evil that honors Lakshmi, the Goddess of Light. Before the parade at 3 pm, a religious service will take place outdoors at the Arya Spiritual Center Grounds, 104-20 133rd St. Worshipers will burn oil lamps and incense and chant sacred verses (mantras). Figures of Lakshmi and other Hindu gods will share space with flowers and large, framed photos of sacred images. Meanwhile on a stage, leaders will sing, chant, give speeches, and direct the activities.
After the motorcade at about 7:30 pm, many participants will return to the Arya Spiritual Center Grounds for more music, dancing, and chanting.
Diwali’s origins are unclear. Historians agree that it comes from ancient India, but some say that it began as a harvest festival. Others argue that its roots are in Lakshmi’s wedding to Lord Vishnu. Still more think it stems from a birthday party for Lakshmi.
Diwali Motorcade’s origins are crystal clear, though. The first one was in Richmond Hill in 1999. The main organizers and participants have always been Guyanese and Trinidadian immigrants to New York City who are descended from Hindus from India. In the 19th century, many Indians immigrated to Guyana and the Caribbean. Their descendants started immigrating to Richmond Hill and other Queens neighborhoods in large numbers in the 1980s.
Images: Lakshmi Singh
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