BY VEENA RAO
UFor the third year in a row, The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Atlanta Chapter, celebrated Diwali at the Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta on October 12th. Several hundred people joined in the 'free for the public' celebrations that included cultural programs and free lunch.
Families could be seen enjoying their day out- appreciating the cultural program and the delicious vegetarian lunch, while children bustled about getting henna on their hand and their face painted. Several people brought their mainstream American friends along, to acquaint them with a dose of Indian culture and food. A raffle draw served as a fundraiser for VHP. The winner, Vidushi Gupta, took home a gold pendant from Malani Jewelers.
Incredibly talented students from several Atlanta groups like Andaaz entertainment, Tarang school of Music & Arts, Bal Vihar and others showcased their talents on the outdoor stage. The variety program included patriotic songs, classical Indian dances from different parts of India, Bollywood inspired songs and dances- even Bharat Natyam on roller skates by Adithya Prem, a young dancing prodigy! Free henna and face painting added color to the event.
Rachana Gupta and Ashok Goyal were the emcees for the event.
The program was supported by Atlanta associations like the Gujarati Samaj, Sanatan Mandir, Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Ekal Vidyalaya foundation, Jai Mata Di Group, Global Mall, Sandeep Savla, ACG, BAPS temple, Shakti Mandir and others.
VHP Atlanta Chapter president Kusum Khurana said the objective of the Diwali program was to unite all Hindus-bring all Indian communities together and to expose our culture to mainstream Americans and tell them more about Diwali.
“We have a lot of temples and associations here,” she said. “The VHP provides a platform for everybody to come together. We also take up causes like misrepresentation of Hinduism in textbooks here.”
Khurana said she hoped the program would get exposure, considering that it was held at Centennial Olympic Park- a prime Atlanta location.