Celebration of Diwali: Festival of Lights at Fermilab

On the brilliant afternoon of Nov. 3, Fermilab Asian Pacific Association (FAPA) hosted a Diwali/Deepavali or the Festival of Lights celebration in Building 327, Big Room at Fermilab.

Diwali, which is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, means “rows of lights” and it is celebrated as the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, hope over despair. Throughout the afternoon, the spirit of Diwali was recognized in many ways via decorations, rangolis (Indian folk art of making colorful patterns with colored sand and flower petals), mehendi (temporary decorations made with henna on palms), food and the cultural program. “Diwali is the celebration of transition from ignorance (darkness) to enlightenment (light),” added senior scientist Chandrashekhara Bhat.

The venue was decorated with candles, colorful lights, Diwali themed photo booth props, garlands of marigold and canvases with colorful rangolis drawn on them. Two tables were set as rangoli stations where many artistic colorful designs were created by our colleagues and friends. There were a couple of mehendi stations where our skillful friends volunteered to be the henna artists and had drawn many henna tattoos on the palms of enthusiastic participants.

Samosas turned out to be fan favorites, accompanied by sweets, gulab jamuns and barfis and other Indian snacks and fruits. TSD researcher Athula Wickremansinghe said, “Diwali to me represents peace, love and a time to appreciate samosas.”

Food tasting was followed by a cultural program where our friends and colleagues participated in singing, dancing, playing harmonica, guitar, juggling, hula hoop show and recitation. An estimated 60 people enjoyed the food, decorations, and all the fun activities. The cultural show provided everyone with the opportunity to appreciate the plethora of artistic talents shared by our colleagues. “The entertainment program displayed the rich, diverse and wonderful artistic talents of our colleagues who performed. The melodic rendering by Sudeshna, of a beautiful song by one of my favorite poets, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and an Indian classical dance performed by Meghana, dedicated to an all-powerful goddess (enshrined atop a hill in my father’s hometown Mysore), were, in particular, special treats to me,” said Distinguished Scientist Pushpalatha Bhat. The same sentiment was echoed by Chandrashekhara, who added, “The entertainment program that included singing, Indian classical dance, guitar and harmonica playing, as well as juggling tricks and a hoop dance was delightful and made my day!”

Thank you to all who participated in the planning of this event, and all who attended. Thanks to Chief Safety Officer Amber Kenney for advocating and supporting this event as FAPA’s executive sponsor. “Many thanks to the FAPA leadership team who continually go out of their way to engage the LRG membership and lab community to celebrate and appreciate Asian and Pacific Islander cultures,” said Kenney. Thanks to Sudeshna Ganguly and Genfa Wu for co-hosting, Anahi Ruiz Beltran, Meghna Bhattacharya, Sujit Bidhar, Yun He, Cindy Joe, Meredith Lee, Zunping Liu, Arun Saini and Yi Xie for event planning. We also want to thank all our allies for the support that made this afternoon such a colorful, fun event. We especially thank Meghna Bhattacharya, Alessio D’Agliano, Mackenzie Devilbiss, Sudeshna Ganguly, Daisy Kalra, Zepyoor Khechadoorian, Pallabi Pathak, Shishir Shetty and Kent Triplett for performing at the cultural program and Genfa Wu and Marty Murphy for taking beautiful photographs.

On this wonderful occasion of Diwali, we hope to continue to work towards fostering a diverse culture at Fermilab and bringing everyone together.

See the Fermilab FAPA SharePoint Page for more photos (login with services account required).